MAGARAO, CAMARINES SUR-As a tribute to the hard-working women employees of DA Bicol this month dedicated for women, the DA conducted a one-day activity exclusively for them. Eighty (80) women employees from all divisions/sections and Research Outreach Stations attended the event at Sonrisa Farm this town on March 13, 2019.

Aloha Gigi Bañaria, Chief of the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) and Regional Gender and Development Focal Person, said the activity aims to give the participants a stress free day as they experience the relaxing rural ambience and savor the delicious organic foods of Sonrisa Farm.  

Peter Theodore P. Caro-Secretary of the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC) 5 shared his “Impression, Research and Reflection (IRR) about women”.  According to him, women requires empowerment to be safe and secured from gender related harassment and domestic violence.

Caro added that with regards to education, today, women are less inclined to choose Science and Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) than men do. CHEd reports 2.6%, TESDA 36 % of IT and ICT enrolees respectively, are female. However, the International Labor Organizations still see challenges which hinder the Filipino women to find interest in STEM. These are lack of awareness of the modern technology and only a few role models to look up to. Through awareness and mentoring, these challenges could be overcome. “So, for future Gender and Development Activities, please consider demonstrations on how those of you, your daughters, relatives or other women can become more interested to harness Science and Technology, Engineering and Math”, Mr. Caro suggested. It is also vital to emphasize this in rural communities in Bicol where there is low appreciation to STEM, he stressed.  “Why is it important? Not just to be conventional but because kailangan ng kababaihan ang STEM to adapt to the shifting career pathways,” he added. In fact, based from the study of the International Labor Organization, women are 140% more likely to lose their job than men because of automation, Caro said.

Another topic discussed during the said event was the Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees by Jaymar Azagra-Human Resource Specialist II of Civil Service Commission, Camarines Sur Field Office. He underscored the Norms of Conduct of public officials and employees which are; commitment to public interest, professionalism, political neutrality, justness, responsiveness to the public, patriotism and nationalism, commitment to democracy and simple living.

Meanwhile, Shyla Joy R. Bernal-Dumalasa, Legal Staff of SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal) Bicol  discussed the Manifestations of Gender Bias and Republic Act 9710 Magna Carta of Women. She shared stories of women who are victims of gender related issues seeking legal services from their office. 

Dumalasa also explained the Expanded Maternity Leave Law which was recently signed by President Duterte. It is provided in the law that working mothers both in government and private sector are entitled to a 105 days of paid maternity leave and have the option to extend for 30 days without pay. Single mothers shall also be granted an additional 15 days of paid maternity leave.  According to her, this law is proof that the government, members of the private sector, the academe, non-government organizations and private individuals are really making change work for women.    

The highlight of the event was the #JuanaSaysChallenge contest were the participants were given 5 minutes to think of words that will complete the #JuanaSays based from the insights shared by Mr. Caro on “Impression, Research and Reflection about Women.” The first place was bagged by the employees from the Central Bicol Experiment Station (CBES) with their hashtag “#JuanaSays Always be the first great version of yourself rather than a second great version of others.” Second placer was the “#JuanaSays If the wife is empowered, life will be easier for the men” from the Albay Experiment Station. Third place went to ILD (Integrated Laboratories Division) with the “#JuanaSays Empowered women build happy homes.” The Winners received a gift from PMED. (Zandra Abogado/RAFIS Staff)