In honor of the resilience, successes, and contributions of Filipinas to national development, the Department of Agriculture (DA) vowed to provide more opportunities to women especially in the agriculture sector during the opening ceremony of the National Women’s Month Celebration (NWMC) 2023, March 6.
True to the Department’s commitment to empowering women in agriculture, Senior Undersecretary Domingo F. Panganiban shared that the DA is fully compliant with the Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, which requires government offices to allot five percent of their total budget to Gender and Development (GAD) initiatives.
“Last year, we exceeded the mandated percentage as we allocated 17% or P11 billion out of the P59.8 B budget. For this year, we increased our GAD budget by P6.2 B—comprising P17.2 B out of our total allocation of P87.07 B,” he revealed.
With a higher GAD budget, the Senior Undersecretary explained that the DA will intensify its distribution of farm inputs and machineries, the conduct of trainings and other knowledge-sharing initiatives, and the provision of market opportunities and access to credit programs for women in agriculture to encourage them as major contributors to the country’s food security.
As of the morning of March 6, the DA-RSBSA recorded 2,663,663 women farmers, fisherfolk, and agricultural laborers throughout the country. They comprise 42.9 percent of the 6,211,882 RSBSA-registered farmers, farmworkers, fisherfolk, and agri-youth nationwide who are entitled to the government’s agricultural interventions.
The Senior Undersecretary added that the DA’s GAD programs extend not only to women agricultural workers but also to the employees of the Department, as its GAD budget is also used to implement gender-responsive programs that are capable of protecting them from sexual harassment and violence against women.
Meanwhile, Senator Cynthia A. Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, shared inspirational stories of her mother and grandmother who both succeeded in their respective agricultural ventures despite lacking access to opportunities.
The senator also revealed how her grandmother’s success story inspired her to promote a more farmer-centric and income-generating agricultural value chain.
“Our farmers should not only be farmers; they should be the ones to sell their products para yayaman sila, hindi ‘yong mga trader,” she said
The senator added that women have a lot to contribute to the development of our nation given the proper opportunities and training.
“We need to empower and equip our women to help us in food security and production. When more women work or earn, economies grow,” she added.
First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos shared through a video message how women have been active in many significant roles in society.
“Women here in the Philippines and even abroad continue to excel in their respective field, proving once again that women have taken a stronger and more influential role in contributing to the socio-economic development of the world,” she stressed.
Also joining via video message, Senator Risa Hontiveros noted that while the celebration highlights the victories achieved by and for women, it also “puts a spotlight on the work that needs to be done.”
“Hindi natin nakakalimutan ang mga kababaihan sa kanayunan—ang labis na apektado ng resesiyon at climate change. Indeed, having human faces and genuine voices to represent our laws has been crucial in the passage of many measures. When women are physically seen, when we are given the platform to speak, my colleagues in the Senate and the public in general would be hard-pressed to forget our stories. More often than not, this creates a deluge of support for the policies we try to push for,” the Senate Committee Chairperson on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality elaborated.
The NWMC’s roots in the Philippines goes back to 1988 when the late former President Corazon Aquino signed the Proclamation Nos. 224 and 227; the former declared the first week of March as Women’s Week and the eighth day of March as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day, while the latter called for the observance of the Women’s Role in History Month every March.
The celebration revolves around the theme, WE for Gender Equality and Inclusive Society, with WE standing for women empowerment to spark a renewed commitment to the advocacy and to bank on the gains achieved during the 2016-2022 theme, WE Make CHANGE Work for Women.
“Women empowerment is achieved if all agencies and institutions come together at the national and local levels to provide equal rights and opportunities to women and the women empower themselves to take on the roles that put them on equal footing with the men,” shared DA – Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) OIC-Executive Director Annray Villota-Rivera, who concurrently serves as Program Director of the DA – Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) and Vice-Chairperson of the DA – Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS).
The NWMC 2023 theme is also aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028’s vision of revitalizing the Philippine economy through inclusive growth and equal opportunities for every Filipino.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Romania to the Philippines Răduţa Dana Matache, along with other DA officials, also joined the celebration at the DA grounds and the DA – Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Convention Hall in Quezon City.
The week-long celebration of the NWMC 2023 features an exhibit on the winners of the 2022 DA Search for Outstanding Rural Women, a display of locally-produced textiles that are woven by indigenous women, and a food bazaar promoting women-led farmers’ cooperatives and associations.
The DA-PhilFIDA also organized a fashion show featuring the versatility of local textiles as casual wears, formal attires, and other custom pieces by local artisans and fashion designers made their runway debut. ### (Krystelle Ymari A. Vergara, DA-AFID)