MANILA — An inclusive digital education will provide opportunities for women and girls to thrive in communities, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte said on Wednesday, International Women's Day.
In her speech during the Philippine Commission on Women and UN Women International Women's Day Celebration in Taguig City, Duterte highlighted her office's initiatives, including the provision of technical assistance to women micro-entrepreneurs and a program that helps prepare enterprises of women for "growth, scalability, and subsequent venture capital funding."
“Naniniwala rin ako na kapag ang mga kababaihan sa isang komunidad ay nabigyan ng pagkakataong maging produktibo, kapag sila ay nabigyan ng edukasyon at nagkaroon ng kapangyarihan ng kaalaman, at kapag sila ay nahasa na mamuno, kaya po nilang baguhin ang mukha ng kanilang komunidad,” Duterte said.
(I also believe that when women in a community are given the opportunity to be productive, when they are given education and have the power of knowledge, and when they are trained to lead, they can change the face of their community.)
“By helping women access economic opportunities, for example, we empower them to be financially independent, improve the standard of living of their families, and are better able to ensure the good health and education of their children,” she added.
She cited as an example the Lumad women of the Paqubato district in Davao City, who once benefitted from a “government-initiated but civilian-led peace initiative project” called Peace 911, and later helped their community despite the alleged cycle of violence due to supposed control of armed groups of their village.
Paqubato's land was fertile and the women were taught to grow and produce organic vegetables, Duterte said.
“Those women, unlike all of us here, may not have access to advanced technology and innovations. They may not fully understand things about the internet or Facebook or Twitter or how their transistor radio works. But those women — they embraced a version of technology and innovation that was applicable and effective to change their lives and their community,” she said.
Duterte also stressed the need to strengthen the protection mechanisms for women from all kinds of violence committed against them at home, the workplace, and in online communities.
The Department of Education, she said, is firm in protecting the rights of children in basic education.
“We have strengthened our child protection mechanism and launched the Learner Telesafe Contact Center national hotline where our learners can report cases of abuse including online child sexual exploitation,” she said.
Duterte also recognized the need to address early teenage pregnancies and to make sure that learners are given a chance to continue their studies.
In Pikit National High School in North Cotabato, she noted that only 63 percent of learners continue schooling due to peace and order problems in the community and teenage pregnancy, among other problems, she said.
“DepEd is also making sure that teenage mothers who have dropped out of formal school to take care of their children are provided with a second chance to finish basic education and pursue their dreams through the Alternative Learning System or pursue technical skills training through our TESDA programs,” she added.
The Vice President said the Marcos Jr. administration is committed to boosting social protection programs and implementation of laws to protect women, as mentioned in the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028.
“It is my hope that by working hand in hand with this pursuit, we can provide more digital opportunities for socio-economic growth and gender empowerment and thereby enable women to rise above any form of online violence affecting their mental and physical well-being,” she stressed.