Despite being one of the best performing countries in the world in terms of gender equality due to the presence of various measures promoting it, violence against women and girls (VAWG) still exists in the Philippines until today. It exists in every space of the society beginning from the community level up to the government level and even in the cyberspace.
Child marriage is one example of this problem that compromises the security and development of women and girls. A great deal of studies has shown that this phenomenon gravely affects all aspects of a girl’s life including her childhood, education, and employment opportunities, forfeiting her chances at a bright future.
It also exposes her to several health risks such as pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications. Indeed, pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications are the leading causes of death for young women aged 15-19 around the world. Moreover, child marriage also increases her risk of violence and abuse from their husband and in-laws as these girls are often married to older men and live in the house of their husbands.
Child marriage, just like any other forms of VAWG, is a form of grave human rights violation that needs to be stopped.
The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) sees the upcoming 2019 midterm elections as an arena for change. It views the elections as an avenue to magnify, and consequently, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children that have been prevalent in the country for years now, impeding the right to genuine growth and development of this sector. PLCPD also recognizes the crucial role of policymaking in ensuring that the rights of women are recognized, upheld, and well-respected.
It is in this context that PLCPD, through the project Creating Spaces to Take Action on Violence against Women and Girls, launched the “iChange: vote against VAWG” campaign which aims to raise public awareness on the issue of VAWG in the country and to identify and develop potential policy champions among candidates. In this campaign, PLCPD specifically calls for the enactment of a law that will prohibit and criminalize the facilitation of child marriage in the country. Furthermore, PLCPD calls the attention of the candidates to adopt measures that will protect the rights of the women and girls, when elected.
iChange: Vote against VAWG embarked on a voters’ education series and concert tour. The first part is a voters’ education forum where stakeholders from different sectors discussed the impacts of VAWG and why it is important to end it. They also called on the candidates of the upcoming 2019 midterm elections to be champions of the rights of women and girls and to be one with the fight against all forms of VAWG. In return, some national candidates were present to share their platforms and to give their pledge of commitment in ending VAWG.
The second part showcases various progressive artists such as Tapati, Ja Quintana, Rom Dongeto, Kokoi Baldo, Jug Honeyluv, and Skarlet Brown who have shared their talents in a concert that aims to utilize the power of music as an effective platform in raising different societal issues. PLCPD also produced a music video for the campaign’s official theme song entitled “Ngayon ang Simula” written and composed by PLCPD’s executive director, Mr. Rom Dongeto..
After its launch in Quezon city, this campaign was brought to the provinces of Maguindanao, and Lanao del sur. This activity is part of a larger campaign entitled “iChange: vote for our future”, an issue-based campaign aimed to mainstream several human development issues and to influence the platforms of the candidates as well as the voting criteria of the voters.
VAWG is real. VAWG is a form of grave human rights violation. VAWG needs to be stopped. This May 2019, PLCPD calls on every voters not to forget to vote and to vote against VAWG! #EndVAWG #EndChildMarriage #iChangePH