MANILA — Marking Women's Month, President Rodrigo Duterte, who has several times drawn criticism for comments on women and rape jokes, has urged the public to join initiatives that "promote women empowerment."
Authorities are "working relentlessly to ensure that they will have equal access to education, economic opportunities, health care and social services, and growth opportunities," Duterte said in a taped message posted online on Wednesday by the Philippine Commission on Women.
"But the work is far from over. Thus, I urge our people to participate in advocacies and activities that promote women empowerment," said the President.
"Let us all work hand-in-hand to address the needs of women and honor their immense contribution to society. Mabuhay ang ating mga kababaihan," he added.
Duterte in several instances has spawned allegations of sexism over his comments on women.
In November 2020, Duterte and other government officials joked about sex and womanizing during a post-typhoon briefing in calamity-hit Camarines Sur. This prompted a reminder from the Commission on Human Rights that the objectification of women is a form of violence.
In January, Duterte said women were not fit to be president.
Women's rights advocate Rina Jimenez-David has said some of Duterte's female critics have face serious consequences, like detained Sen. Leila de Lima, ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes-Sereno, and journalist Maria Ressa.