Duterte eyes gender-balanced Cabinet, looks for lady leaders


Posted at May 12 2016 11:16 PM

Senator Pia Cayetano. Photos by Vyn Radovan

Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte will have a gender sensitive cabinet and his administration will ensure that issues concerning women will be addressed, an official said.

Outgoing Senator Pia Cayetano, who will be part of Duterte's selection committee for next Cabinet members, said the president-elect is looking for efficient leaders.

"Whether we have a female or a male Secretary for any position, our objective is to ensure that they are gender-sensitive -- that they run their department in a manner that is conducive for the growth women within the departments addressing the concerns of women for that particular sector," Cayetano said.

"I want to assure the public that we will do everything to make sure that the best women are selected for these positions," she added.

She said it is also important for women's concerns to reach the top officials of the Executive branch.

"It is important that we have a gender-balanced leadership, that the voice of women are heard and the concerns of women are addressed at the highest level because after that, it will flow," she said.

Cayetano, the sister of Duterte's running mate Alan, also said that although female politicians are traditionally more active in social concerns, there would be other opportunities for them under the Duterte administration.

"Many women are qualified for any position and I know for a fact that the door is open for all women in this administration," she said.


Meanwhile, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) has vowed to work well with Duterte on ensuring that women’s rights are protected under his term.

Speaking on Mornings at ANC Thursday, PCW Executive Director
Emmeline Verzosa said they would need to give Duterte proper advice and update him about Philippines' gender equality issues.

“There are tasks that we need to do, we have certain commitments, we have the Magna Carta of Women which should be implemented, so what we need to do is really give him the proper advice, tell him where we are at in terms of promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and wish and hope that he would agree and supports the program,” she said.

Verzosa noted the outgoing administration is known for appointing many women in the cabinet and in other levels of government positions, so she hopes the next administration will also do the same.

"I've not heard of any woman that he would be appointing in the cabinet yet, so we're waiting for these names so that he could at least appoint more women, hopefully half of his cabinet if they could be women, if that's possible," he said.

"But not just in the cabinet, the Magna Carta of Women also says that 50-50 should be women in third level position, that's deputy director up undersecretary, so to date we are at 43 percent women in third level position, so if he could also appoint more women running the government."

Currently, the Philippines is at number 7 in the latest Global Gender Gap Index, a measure of how well countries are leveraging female talent pool, and Verzosa said they are hoping this will be maintained.

Based on the crowdsourcing that PCW conducted, women's top priorities are economic empowerment, social development, and gender, as well as climate change and disaster risk reduction.

“What has been coming out is that in terms of disaster risk reduction and management that women would like to participate and be prepared for such kind of disasters," Verzosa said.

She also said issues on security, justice, and peace are also among women's top priorities. She hopes Duterte will include concerns on rape and violence, as well as domestic violence against women in his plans to curb all forms of violence.

"Address violence against women, to ensure that government, police, social welfare departments and prosecutors and the court systems work together so that women would be protected from all forms of violence,” she said.

Duterte should mandate all the local government units (LGUs) to create a gender development office similar to the one he implemented in Davao City, Verzosa said.

“In Davao City it’s actually a learning hub for gender mainstreaming, they have a full signed integrated gender development office and they’ve hired five lawyers to address violence against women cases, so he could do that and mandate all the LGUs and all the provinces to have a similar unit in the province of full time staff addressing women’s empowerment and gender equality,” she said.

PCW also hopes for a better implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, the approval of the Anti-discrimination Bill, and the amendment of the Family Code of the Philippines and the Solo Parents' Welfare Act.

Just last month, women's groups, including the PCW, criticized Duterte following his controversial statement about the rape of an Australian missionary, but the agency hopes, also through their guidance, that such incidents will not happen again.

“We hope that he would really not make fun of women anymore and that he would behave as he said that he would be prim and proper,” she said.

-With reports from Magno Ardenia, Caroline Howard