Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday sought opportunities to improve women's economic status, as she emphasized that freedom from abuse would be achieved easier if women could provide for themselves.
Citing her experience as a human rights lawyer, Robredo said women experiencing marital abuse who sought refuge in their home in Naga City often failed to show up in court.
“They were worried they would have nothing to feed their children once they leave their abusive husbands. Witnessing the struggles of these Filipinas allowed me to understand the true independence also comes from economic empowerment,” she said.
Robredo added her office is working to help women build their own business through her office's program, Angat-Buhay Project.
“We’ve seen a lot of them graduate from micro to bigger businesses, expanding their markets even to Metro Manila and overseas,” she said.
Robredo also emphasized that Philippines ranks 7th out of 145 countries in the global gender gap index and is the highest ranking country in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, the struggle for women empowerment gender stereotypes continues, said Robredo.
"For every dollar a Filipina earns, a man earns a dollar and 45 on the average. Perhaps that shows why women in this country account for 11.2 million of our population living in poverty. They are still vulnerable to indecent work conditions, inadequate social security and discrimination," she said.
Robredo also lamented women being attacked on social media, even alluding to the President’s comment about her legs.
“Social media is emerging as the new space for harassment and unwelcome comments about our looks, our legs, etc. It is [a] sad reality. We cannot let this continue,” she said.
Robredo said gender equality is "sometimes about quiet strength, collaborating rather than leading."
She said she chose to be in the background when her late husband was still in office, opting to care for their children and becoming a lawyer for the poor.
“When we would exchange notes about what we learned from our day, we would realize that our experiences helped solve challenges in both city hall and down on the ground,” she said.
“When women and men work side by side with our unique perspectives and different strengths, we are more powerful.”
The #SheforShe Forum on Women's Solidarity was organized by the Embassy of France to the Philippines and Micronesia.