Student leaders celebrate Women’s Month through conversation on issues that affect women and girls

As part of the celebration of Women’s Month and in recognition of the role of young people in advocacy, the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) and Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) of Miriam College organized an advocacy event on March 9 called Start Young, Stand up for Women and Girls: Conversations among leaders and advocates for women and girls’ rights.

Around 90 student leaders of Miriam College participated in this event, which was held in their campus. The event featured national legislators and youth leaders who delivered inspirational talk, “Why we need to be advocates for women and girls.” They encouraged young women to take actions on emerging issues of women and girls such as adolescent reproductive health and child, early, and forced marriage. Ms. Angelica Ramirez, PLCPD Project Manager for Creating Spaces to End Violence Against Women and Girls gave an overview of prevalence and impact of child marriage.

House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Linabellle Ruth Villarica stressed that women belong to politics. Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said, “The youth have an equal voice to demand government services, protection, and justice.” Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, Kabataan Party-list Representative, shared her passion in advocating the rights of marginalized sectors, particularly the youth, and emphasized the role of collective action.

Ms. Sarah Jane Biton, Youth Program Coordinator of Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights shared her efforts in advocating sexual and reproductive health and rights. Ms. Jasmine Tolentino, President of CEDAW Youth Miriam College Chapter, gave compelling reasons why her generation should advocate for women and girls. She said that they should be the voice of voiceless.

Facilitated by Prof. Luz Martinez, the participants also had a dialogue on other issues affecting women and girls; among the issues surfaced during the dialogue are affordable and environment-friendly feminine products, representation of women in the media, feminists being branded as men-haters, breaking the glass ceiling, competition among women, and freedom of women to wear what they want.
The nationwide essay-writing competition on adolescent reproductive health was also launched during the program. The essay-writing competition is organized by PLCPD and ARCHES Project.