The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has recently released a memo on Fostering a Gender-Inclusive Workplace.

Undersecretary for Institutional Development Group (IDG) Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa released the memo addressed to all executive and management committee members and all regional directors and attached agencies of the DSWD instructing them to be conscious of gender rights and issues and ensure that these are observed and respected in the workplace. She acted upon the decision of the DSWD Executive Committee to promote the policy in the department.

“In view of providing a gender-inclusive workplace, please be reminded that DSWD personnel have the right to comply with the office uniform styles prescribed by the Department in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression. Preferred uniform styles of personnel belonging to the LGBTQ community will be respected i.e., either they opt to wear pants (in lieu of skirt) or skirt (in lieu of pants), following the grant of clothing allowance for 2016. The Department pledges to cultivate an environment free from discrimination, where diversity and inclusion are valued at all levels,” said Usec. Ancheta-Templa.

DSWD Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo said that the DSWD as an institution respects and upholds LGBTQ rights and hopes that all its employees and personnel would do the same. She said that recognizing the right of its LGBTQ employees and staff to dress based on their own preferences that are tied to their gender identification is the least that the DSWD can do.

“Policies on respect for LGBTQ rights are policies that we want our employees to observe on their own volition, not because the administration of the DSWD orders them to, but because the employees themselves on their own see the importance of LGBTQ rights,” said Sec. Taguiwalo. “We still have a very long way to go before the rights of LGBTQ become fully accepted in Philippine society, and every little effort to promote them is important and should be enforced.”

Prior to her becoming DSWD secretary, Sec. Taguiwalo has an established record of being a staunch advocate of women’s rights and the rights of members of the LGBTQ community. She is a retired professor of the Department of Women and Development Studies, the College of Social Work and Community Development, UP Diliman (Faculty Member from June 1992 until her retirement in July 31, 2015); Director, University of the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies (June 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015); Chair (2012- 2013 and 2000-2002), Department of Women and Development Studies.

Sec. Taguiwalo also cited ordinances passed by various local government units such as that of Davao City and Quezon City that respect and uphold gender rights. Quezon City has  Ordinance No. 1309, which prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace; and Davao has the Anti-Discrimination ordinance which was passed in 2012 to stop discrimination against individuals against because of the way they act, appear and their being considered members of minority groups including the LGBT community.

“We hope that we see more policies and programs that promote LGBTQ rights emanate from all agencies of government,” she said. #