Thursday, December 11, 2014

DOTC Gender and Transportation Summit: Accelerating Equitable Development Through Inclusive Mobility

Wazzup Pilipinas!

"Like any good deed, gender equality should start at home" says Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Jun Abaya in his first statements of the closing remarks speech he gave at the Gender and Transportation Summit, a milestone in the history of the transportation sector, held at the Philippine International Convention Center last November 17 and 18, 2014.

Secretary Abaya was grateful for the representatives from the private sector who took time out to participate in the gender equality and transportation activity. This is the first time that the transportation sector would join hands and put into writing the various commitments to advance gender equality of each of the transport sub-sectors - the road, railways, civil aviation and maritime.

He also recognized the efforts of Director Quiogue and Assistant Secretary Lantin for their valuable contributions in the preparation, coordination and setting up of the activities involved in the Gender and Transportation Summit.

Below are statements grabbed from his speech done on the second day and con concluding hours of the summit before the signing of MOUs took place. Some of the statements were re-arranged in order to give a clearer presentation of facts. We also removed some of his other statements that we feel are no longer necessary.

In this modern age, gender equality should indeed be a strong advocacy especially for the transportation sector. Husbands should take care of their wives, and wives should ensure the husbands are not underneath their skirts (under-de-saya). Like any good trait, gender equality goes both ways. If we do not agree to wife-beating, there shouldn't be husband beating happening. At the end of the day, beating should not happen at home. Gender equality should not always favor the women. We should take a second look of our rules as regards to weighing the right, privileges and access of women. Women liberals would also assert "Don't look after us, we can fend on our own, we can stand on our feet, we can assert ourselves."

Women play different roles in their everyday lives. These roles are very different from men. Because of these differences, it is only logical that differences in the needs and concerns between the two arise. Thus, for transport plan, programs, activities, and projects to be responsive, they must take into consideration these gender differences. When these transport services and infrastructures address the needs and concerns of both men and women, the transportation sector has fulfilled a much higher objective. It becomes enabling, it becomes empowering.

Hence the signing of each sub-sector's respective MOUs, MOAs and manifesto of support  between the department, its agencies and other government offices and their private sector counterparts and partners in the different transport sub-sectors is a positive development in our attempt to close the gender disparity. These documents will integrate gender concerns into the development plans, programs and projects of the transport sector. Doing this will ease the burden confronted by the women and thus will enable them to pursue their highest strategic needs, and such a state will therefore promote gender equality and empowerment which ultimately leads to a better quality of life for both men and women. Together they may freely participate in the task of nation-building.

"My brotherly advise, let us go beyond mother hood, fatherhood statements and be really specific with the recommendations so we could clearly act on them and really push this advocacy forward." says Secretary Abaya.

The Secretary hoped that  "Sana huwag motherhood statement lahat." This exercise that they been working on for two days would be an exercise in futility if they end up with an MOU that is general, that is motherhood, that talks of the same nouns, adjectives that we've been accustomed to hearing in gender equality summits and conventions. I do hope that we would be more specific this time otherwise we wouldn't have pushed for this advocacy. 

Thanks to all who became partners in this initiative leading to a process that is bound to be rigorous. I am certain that with everyone's unwavering commitment and support, we would be able to uplift the lives of women to the industry we serve. My congratulations to all of them for continuing to advance the Gender Equality agenda in the transportation sector.

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