March 31, 2022
March is widely known as National Women’s Month (NWM)—in fact, March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. The Philippine Commission on Women is actively promoting the celebration of the 2022 National Women’s Month to all the government institutions in the Philippines to highlight and appreciate all the women and girls’ efforts and contributions to society.
As a member of the Regional Development Council X Regional Gender and Development Committee (RDC-X RGADC), the Commission on Population and Development – X (POPCOM X), together with other regional institutions and agencies, joined two outreach programs for women and girls who are deprived of liberty and were victims of sexual abuse and violence.
With abuse cases in Mindanao, particularly in Cagayan de Oro City, Home Care for Girls located in Macanhan, Carmen opens its doors to girls who suffered from abuse. Currently, 18 girls, aging 6 to 18 years old, reside in the community center. To accommodate the needs of the girls and the staff of Home Care for Girls, POPCOM X distributed 19 care packages, each containing various hygiene products. Other agencies also donated school supplies, cleaning materials, food and vitamins, and other essentials that are needed in the facility.
In a study commissioned by POPCOM, 25% of the 1,500 adults (18 years old and above) cited violence as the second top concern for most Filipino women, following early teenage pregnancy as the top concern. Of the 25%, 11% mentioned physical violence, 7% for sexual violence, and 7% for emotional violence. Moreover, the study shows that “The figure is almost similar in Mindanao, with 24% of adults sharing the same sentiments (11% for physical violence, 5% for sexual, and 8% for emotional.)
The celebration of women’s month is not only for the women who have great contributions to society—women in uniforms, working women, businesswomen, women front liners, housewives, and female students—but also for women who are deprived of liberty. 250 women in Cagayan de Oro City Jail – Female Dormitory were each given essential products to help them protect themselves from germs and viruses, most importantly now that COVID, although contained, is not yet eradicated.
Emotional scars caused by abuse and poor choices from the past cannot and will never exclude or deem any woman unworthy from embracing her right to celebrate her womanhood. It’s time to celebrate women in every aspect and status of life without any prejudices and stereotypes. The month of March may end, but that does not mean that the celebration for women must also end. POPCOM X will continue to recognize, celebrate, and support women always and in all ways.