International Day of Action for Women’s Health in Congress highlights call for enactment, implementation of laws protecting women’s health

Enact expanded maternity leave. Ensure safe workplaces for women. Implement Reproductive Health (RH) Law.

These were the calls highlighted during the celebration of International Day of Action for Women’s Health (IDAWH) at the House of Representatives.

With quadruple commemoration of Labor Day, Mother’s Day, Cervical Cancer Consciousness Month, and the International Day of Action for Women’s Health this May, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) and the ARCHES Project, Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), Kilusan ng Manggagawang Kababaihan (KMK), and the House of Representatives Committee on Women and Gender Equality gathered legislators, women workers, and advocates of women’s rights and reproductive health in an advocacy event called “Celebrating Women’s Health, Transforming Commitments into Action” to push for the enactment of bills on expanded maternity leave and occupational safety and health as well as to make the call for the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law.

The bill expanding maternity leave to 100 days is currently under plenary deliberation at the House of Representatives and has been approved on 3rd and Final Reading in the Senate, while the bill on occupational safety and health is already in the bicameral conference. Meanwhile, Congress is set to embark on congressional review of the Reproductive Health Law, five years since its enactment in 2012.

Advocates are seeing the RH Law review as an opportunity to fill in policy and gaps in implementation, and see what more can be improved given the serious challenges that the law had to endure, including the temporary restraining order that had affected the country’s family planning program.

“Women comprise more than half of the working population yet we are the most vulnerable to various risks and hazards. That is why we are highlighting improved measures and safeguards on occupational safety and health. The issue on occupational safety and health is also related to one of the priority measures of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality: the bill on expanding maternity leave to 100 Days, as it seeks not only to expand the number of days that women can spend with their children and promote optimal breastfeeding but it also has provisions to protect women in the workforce from discrimination and ensure security of tenure,” said Rep. Bernadatte Herrera-Dy, Representative of Bagong Henerasyon Partylist and Chairperson of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality

Meanwhile, Romeo Dongeto, PLCPD Executive Director, called for the full implementation of RPRH Law.

“We are happy that bills protecting women’s health and rights are being pursued in the 17th Congress. But there is still so much to be done as we continue our advocacy for the full implementation of the RH Law. We look forward to seeing our lawmakers exercise their oversight function in ensuring that the laws they crafted are able to achieve their objectives,” Dongeto said.