(delivered by Chairman Francisco T. Duque III at the 2014 Women's Month Launch held March 3, 2014 at the CSC Central Office)

Commissioners Robert S. Martinez and Nieves L. Osorio, Assistant Commissioners David E. Cabanag and Ariel G. Ronquillo, and Executive Director Agnes D. Padilla, directors at the Central Office, a pleasant morning to all of you.

First, let me greet you all Happy Women’s Month, lalong lalo na sa ating magigiting na mga kababaihan dito sa CSC. While Women’s Month strongly recognizes women’s rights, I also want you to understand that it is so much more than this. It is about the rights of all genders. It is a call to recognize equity and fairness in a world where discrimination and violence thrive. We emphasize women’s role in nation building, but we also call on the men to be fellow advocates for the cause of gender equity.

It is ironic how Women’s Month is assumed to be for women only, when we are actually trying to address everyone. It is also strange that when we talk about gender, people assume it is only about women, as if others do not have any. I would like to quote prominent anti-sexist activist and filmmaker Jackson Katz: “violence against women is a men’s issue”. Katz emphasizes here that women’s issues should not be put on the shoulder of women alone, just because they are the ones who suffer more discrimination. Women’s issues are everyone’s issue. In short, we are all accountable.

We hope to achieve better and deeper awareness of gender issues as we participate in this month’s lineup of activities. This includes our kick-off celebration today at the CSC, and a government-wide kick-off celebration on March 8, Saturday, at the Quirino Grandstand. On March 18, we will also be holding a focused group discussion on gender mainstreaming in human resource management for us to think about integrating gender dimensions into the CSC’s six HR initiatives. At the end of month, we will also be holding the Piknik sa Kalikasan, an annual traditional activity to celebrate the achievements of men and women in the CSC, especially in terms of gender mainstreaming. We will also be launching the new guidelines for the Gawad Kawayan Awards during the picnic. I invite you all to actively participate in these activities, and to use this month as an opportunity to start or continue your respective advocacies.

More than being involved in activities, however, is understanding the context in which we celebrate. This year’s theme is “Juana, ang Tatag mo ay Tatag Natin sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong!”, and with this, the Philippine Commission on Women or PCW aims to highlight the contribution of women in the recovery and rehabilitation of the nation. This is in the light of natural and man-made disasters that we encountered last year. The theme also “pays tribute to the strong and resilient Juanas who brought inspiring changes here in the country and across the globe.” In addition, PCW says this year’s celebration “is the best time to highlight the drivers of change who untiringly volunteered themselves in times of disaster, conflict, and calamity. This celebration recognizes the role of women in the rehabilitation process and their over-all contributions to progress.”

Surviving last year’s intense challenges was not easy. Though women and children were more vulnerable to disease, poverty, prejudice, and violence, we see exceptional people rising up from the ashes and becoming beacons of hope in their communities. Women performed their roles as wives, mothers, and daughters in the midst of despair and loss. They also stood as providers, nurturers, fighters, and leaders during the process of their community’s recovery from armed conflict and natural calamities.

 

"While Women’s Month strongly recognizes women’s rights, I also want you to understand that it is so much more than this. It is about the rights of all genders."

 

In 2013, the CSC honored 13 women through the Honor Awards Program. One of them is Anabel P. Ungcad, 2013 Presidential Lingkod Bayan awardee, and a member of the Bagobo indigenous group in Davao del Sur. Growing up poor, she dreamt of helping her community in terms of education and livelihood. She eventually became an Alternative Learning System (ALS) teacher, who brings education to the mountains. Though no one really went out of their way to help her community while she was growing up, she herself returned to the mountains and did the job.

Another 2013 Presidential Lingkod Bayan awardee is Mayor Daisy A. Sayangda of Santol, La Union, who initially did not have a level playing field with the generally male political landscape of her province. Despite the challenge, she proved herself to be a very capable young woman. The highlight of her career was being able to thwart the growing marijuana trade in the mountains.

The achievements of women like Anabel Ungcad and Daisy Sayangda do not go unnoticed. The CSC, for one, is keen to recognize women’s contribution to development, be it in health, finance, education, governance, or politics. That is why, as an HR and OD institution, we continue to support Gender and Development or GAD as a framework to gender mainstreaming. We believe in creating a society and a work environment where men and women can realize their full potential without being limited by discrimination. When I delivered the State of the CSC Address on February 10, I shared with you some of the gains we have achieved last year in terms of gender mainstreaming.

During the implementation of our Change Management Plan, we also started integrating gender dimensions into the CSC’s 6 HR initiatives and related programs. We mainstreamed gender concerns in the Career Service Examinations through the development of test questions as part of the test bank. We also integrated gender-based indicators into the Program to Institutionalize Meritocracy and Excellence in HRM or PRIME-HRM. All of these we do in our goal to become Asia’s center of excellence for strategic HR and OD by 2030. It is impossible to become a great HR institution if we do not address gender issues. The CSC has the authority and the opportunity to create a gender responsive government, one that can be emulated by other civil service institutions around the world. Let us all be part of this worthy endeavor.

Once again, I am inviting everyone to properly observe and actively participate in celebrating Women’s Month, but with the understanding that gender advocacy is not only month-long, but lifelong. Good morning.