LOUD WHISPER| In the context of ASEAN integration… Mainstreaming gender dev’t

IN SOME CONFERENCE which I attended last week, I again noticed that the theme has something to do with ASEAN integration. Oh, my! I exclaimed. The government must really be serious about this integration thing with our counterparts in the ASEAN regions.

     I went there to represent the International Peace Leadership College of Tanay, Rizal province and as a director of that college I am really beginning to press into my mind that our gov’t is indeed bent on spending and taking efforts to integrate the Philippine educational system with other countries abroad, that even gender and development has to undertake a revamp or worse, a twist from the old trend to the new ASEAN trend. Now, we have K to 12 program of CHED and DepEd, and perhaps, the next development would be inclusion of advance military training in the

K to 12 schools.

     Yes, there is a probability, I guess because our educational system is now going into that direction and it is taking steps to meet its objectives. This is all because of the ASEAN integration thing. At this juncture may I share with you my notes jotted down from that conference:

     From the original framework proposed by economist Ester Boserup, which aimed for increased efficiency in meeting development goals through the integration of women into existing development processes, the paradigm shifted to greater equity and empowerment for women and marked the beginning of more equitable and sustainable development.

     The Philippines passed landmark legislation with the end in view of achieving gender equality and women empowerment in 1992, RA 7192 or the Women in Development and Nation Building Act which was passed promoting the integration of women as full and equal partners of men in development and nation building.

     The same had been pursued with the passing in 2009 of RA 9710or the Magna Carta of Women. Section 36 of the said legislation required all government departments, including their attached agencies, offices, bureaus, state universities and colleges, government owned and controlled corporations, local government units and all other government instrumentalities in the adoption of gender and mainstreaming as strategy to promote women’s right and eliminate gender discrimination in the government systems, structures, policies, programs and procedures. With these, gender equality and women empowerment in the government were affirmed.

   Albeit, I can only say that if this law had been passed since 1992, what is now the progress? Has this been fully and truthfully implemented extensively and intensively? I learned that the government set aside a certain portion of the government’s coffer in the amount of millions and millions, for the local governments and other government entities to implement programs in consonance with this law. But sad to say, up to this time, there is still discrimination in terms of promotion in government offices and in terms of employment in big corporations.

     I still remember when I was applying for a job in one agency as Chief Information Officer. I bravely applied for that because I fully knew then that I was the only qualified applicant. The job calls for an M.A. in English or Mass Communication or AB Journalism. And I just graduated from MA in Media Management from the Asian Institute of Journalism in Manila. That was a time when Journalism and Mass Communication courses were very much in demand, in government offices, in communication networks, in the media and even the press. I thought that would be great opportunity.

     So, the day came when the interview was required and the first question that was asked of me from the interviewer (he was a director of the gov’t agency) was, “Why are you applying for this job and position?” Next question, “But you’re a woman, and what is needed in this job is a man because of the nature of the job. You’ll be going out in the fields, mountains, crossing the bridges and waters and bridges?”

     I reacted saying, “Sir, I know that, and this is the reason why I am here. I will accept the challenge because that’s what I learned from the school where I graduated. I know how difficult and risky the job of information officer is, but I will take the challenge.”

   Then he asked again, “But you’re a woman who will be working with big stout men in this department.”

     Then I asked him, “Why Sir, are you trying to say that a woman can not do the job of a man? Don’t you know that women are more efficient and more effective as workers? Why don’t you try me, Sir?”
Then the Director looked at me with smiling eyes and paused. Then in a little while, he said, “Well, Miss Viloria, you are hired. Tomorrow, you report to this office and you may start working.”

     Oh, really how proud I was then to say, “Thank you Sir, and again, Sir, I will take the challenge. I will not fail you.”

     Slowly I left his office and without his knowing it, I was with a grin that made my heart so big and full of gratitude to God. That was my first job in government. (FVS)

Posted in Opinion