As the observance of the 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW) this 2017 comes to an end, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said that efforts must continue to promote the creation of a violence-free community for Filipino women.

DSWD actively participated in this year’s 18-day campaign to End  VAW  which started on November 25 until December 12. This is an annual event which is enforced by Proclamation No. 1172 series of 2006 Declaring 25 November to 12 December as the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW and Republic Act No. 10398 series of 2013 “Declaring November of Every Year as National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children.”

DSWD Officer-in-Charge  Emmanuel Leyco said that although it has been decades since activism against gender-based violence started, the number of cases and incidents of abuse against women and children continues to increase.

“The statistics remain alarming —  one out of five women aged 15 to 49 has experienced physical violence based on the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA),” he said.

He added, “As the lead in the social protection of vulnerable sectors and the chair of the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Children (IACVAWC), the DSWD takes an active role in the advocacy against violence.”

Orange is the color against VAW

As part of the national observance, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) spearheaded the “Orange Your Icon” campaign, which called for the nation to patronize the color orange to symbolize support in the fight against women violence.

To localize the campaign, the DSWD launched the Orange Your Office contest wherein various offices of the Department designed their workstations with their thoughts on VAW with orange-colored materials.

In order to fairly judge the efforts of the different offices and  bureaus in terms of creativity and message against VAW, the DSWD invited  representatives from the Commission on Civil Service (CSC), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), and the University of the Philippines (UP)-Gender and Development (GAD) Office.

CSC Director Noreen Gocon Gragasin commended the DSWD for its efforts, saying that the activity was really worthwhile.

“I think blending creativity and advocacy is indeed perfect.  I think more and more offices should follow the lead of DSWD,” she said.

Forum on Anti-Sexual Harassment  and Gender Sensitivity Training

To raise awareness on sexual harassment in the workplace, the Department held the forum “Ssssh….No More”  held at the DSWD Auditorium .  It was attended by  employees, students, and solo parents.

Speakers from the DSWD and CSC also discussed the provisions of different laws designed to protect women such as the VAW Act and the Anti -Rape Law.

The speakers encouraged women to stand up for their rights and report any incident of sexual harassment that they know of.

Analie Apostol of the CSC explained that a victim can file an administrative case against the perpetrator.  She also affirmed that the CSC receives complaints of sexual harassment from government agencies.

However, she said that most sexual harassment -related cases do not prosper as the victims normally refuse to push forward with the case after some time.

Aside from the forum, the Department also conducted a Gender Sensitive Training (GST) for its employees to ensure that they are knowledgeable of the different laws, issues, and practices on GAD.

OIC Leyco stressed that stronger advocacy on violence against women  must be pursued all year-round and must not end with the observance of the 18-day campaign. ###