President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on August signed into law the measure prohibiting discrimination against women, and recognizing and promoting their rights.
Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, signed at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang Palace, ensures women’s equitable participation and representation in government, political parties, international bodies, civil service and the private sector.
RA 9710 recognizes and protects women’s rights at home, at work and in all spheres of society toward developing all aspects of their well-being. Its most salient features include increasing the number of women personnel until they fill half of third-level positions in the government, setting up in every barangay (village) a “violence against women’s desk,” providing incentives to parties with women’s agenda and barring the derogatory portrayal of women in media and film.
The new law’s most “empowering provision” is its recognition that “women’s rights are human rights,” Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Leila de Lima told reporters after the 10 a.m. signing.
Section 8 of RA 9710 reads: “All rights in the Constitution and those rights recognized under international instruments duly signed and ratified by the Philippines, in consonance with Philippine law, shall be rights of women under this Act to be enjoyed without discrimination.”
According to the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), legislative debates on two bills—Magna Carta for Women and Magna Carta of Women in Rural Development—began in 2002 during the 12th Congress.
The two bills were merged in the 13th Congress, and came to be called Magna Carta of Women.
Said NCRFW Chair Myrna Yao in a statement: “The Magna Carta of Women seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting all human rights and fundamental freedoms of Filipino women, particularly those in the marginalized sector.”
According to Rep. Liza Maza, who was a member of the bicameral conference committee on the law and a co-author of the House version of the measure, the new law:
• Designates the Commission on Human Rights as the Gender and Development Ombud to ensure the promotion and protection of women’s human rights;
• Ensures mandatory training on human rights and gender sensitivity to all government personnel involved in the protection and defense of women against gender-based violence;
• Institutes affirmative action mechanisms so that “women can participate meaningfully in the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policies, plans, and programs for national, regional, and local development.”
The number of women in third level positions in government shall be increased to achieve a fifty-fifty (50-50) gender balance within the next five years while the composition of women in all levels of development planning and program implementation will be at least 40 percent;
• Ensures the equal treatment before the law by ensuring that the State shall take steps to review and when necessary, amend and/or repeal existing laws that are discriminatory to women within three years from the effectivity of the Magna Carta;
• Provides equal access and elimination of discrimination in education, scholarships, and training. Thus, “expulsion, non-readmission, prohibiting enrollment, and other related discrimination of women students and faculty due to pregnancy out of marriage shall be
• Promotes the equal status given to men and women on the titling of the land and issuance of stewardship contracts and patents; and
• Encourages Local Government Units (LGUs) to develop and pass a Gender and Development (GAD) code based on the gender issues and concerns in their respective localities based on consultation with their women constituents.