ZONTA CLUB OF CEBU II MARKS 18 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

(L-R) Immediate Past President of Zonta Club of Cebu II, Marilou Cañizares; Chairperson of Abay sa Kahayag, Dr. Elsa Basubas; Mandaue City Councilor and Chair of Committee on Women, Cynthia Cinco-Remedio; IBP Cebu City President, Atty. Regal Oliva

Since 1991 advocates for women’s rights all over the world have marked November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women  to December 10, Human Rights Day, of each year as  the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

In the Philippines, the national campaign has been extended until December 12, the International Day Against Trafficking by virtue of Proclamation No. 1172 signed in 2006 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the campaign is now known in the country as “the 18-Day campaign to End Violence Against Women.” The Philippine Campaign aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence against women as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels and to strengthen local work around gender-based violence against women.

This year’s campaign highlights the role and essence of the Barangay, as part of a VAW-free community, in consonance with the recurring theme “VAW-free community starts with Me”. Aside from capacitating VAW Desk Officers and other barangay officials on how to handle VAW/GBV cases, the campaign reiterates everyone’s commitment and contributions on ending VAW and calls on the general public to make a personal commitment to end violence against women and children.

The Committee on Abay sa Kahayag having a meeting at the Mayor’s Office with Committee on Woman Chair, Cynthia Cinco-Remedio (center)

In keeping with this vital, land-mark, world-wide campaign Zonta Club of Cebu II, through the Abay sa Kahayag Committee, has organized a series of activities and advocacy initiatives to highlight the perils and serious consequences of GBV (Gender-Based Violence) with most of our endeavors focused on strengthening local mechanisms and building on the required competencies of barangay officials to fully and effectively mandate and implement the directives  obligated by Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act more popularly known as the Bawal Bastos Law,  a legal game -changer, with Senator Rissa Hontiveros as principal sponsor and author that aims at bolstering the country’s legal framework in the area of sexual and gender-based harassment.

The Safe Spaces Act addresses existing gaps and issues on equality, security, and safety of both women and men in private and public spaces and is intended to expand the scope of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 7877. RA 11313 seeks to prevent gender-based sexual harassment from occurring in streets, public places, online workplaces, and educational and training institutions regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks. It penalizes acts such as: cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering and intrusive gazing, taunting, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs, persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance and other such acts. The salient points of the Safe Spaces Act will be discussed at a webinar with a presentation by Atty. Miles Esquivel that will conclude with a motivating and impactful message from Senator Rissa Hontiveros. 

Zontians push for Safe Spaces in Mandaue City (L-R) Edwina Wu; Marilou Cañizares, Immediate Past President: Elsa Basubas, Chairperson, Abay sa Kahayag; Cynthia Cinco-Remedio, Mandaue City Councilor and Chair of Committee on Women; Atty. Regal Oliva, Mandaue Treasurer and President of the IBP Cebu City Chapter and Zontian Mariter Klepp

The 18 day campaign organized by Zonta Club of Cebu II will also feature a webinar on The Intersecting Influences of  Technology on Human Trafficking with special attention focused on the methods that cyber technology increases the ease with which traffickers can locate, recruit, coerce and control their victims. Atty. Katrina Legarda will also present strategies how these same technology that are shaping and facilitating trafficking and smuggling crimes and creating additional barriers to their detection and investigation  can be harnessed to prevent, detect, intervene, and ultimately thwart these crimes.  

Another webinar will feature personalities who will share their stories and experiences of harassment either as victims or witnesses and how they dealt with the aftermath of the encounters. This will be followed by a very informational presentation by, Dr. Rhodora Masilang Bucoy, Former Associate Professor, UP Cebu and Past Chairperson Philippine Commission on Women (2016-2020), Recognized GAD Consultant on techniques and strategies for creating safe and secure physical, virtual or emotional spaces for all that will be inclusive, accepting and secure.

With these series of activities Zonta Club of Cebu II hopes to enlist the support of active participants in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children, to expand accountability and collective responsibility to include all government units, women’s groups, legal entities and  non-government institutions and to harness technology, social media, journalism, business and activism to draw attention to the many ways violence against women and children affects the lives of all people in all communities in the Philippines and around the world. The message that these activities will send is that the solution to violence, harassment and abuse in all forms lies with all of us and it is imperative that society acknowledge that violence against women and children is not solely a government or criminal justice system problem, but a societal issue, and that failure to view it as such results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.