UN agencies, Senator Pia partner for experiential exhibit raising awareness, action vs. violence against women

Pia: “All the sustainable development goals can be achieved if we empower women”: Senator Pia S. Cayetano stressed at the ‘Walk In Her Shoes’ interactive exhibit. Mounted in partnership with UNFPA, the exhibit aims to raise consciousness and action against violence against women and children. Cayetano chairs the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking.

The United Nations (UN) Gender Thematic Group (GTG), in partnership with the Office of Senator Pia Cayetano, launched on Monday an experiential exhibit dubbed “Walk in Her Shoes” in support of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW).

The exhibit, which will be open to Senate visitors from Dec. 4 to 12, features stories of various sectors of women and girls, highlighting the forms of gender-based violence they face daily. It aims to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of VAW, prompt reflection on the prevailing social norms that reinforce this harmful behavior, and galvanize action to end VAW.

“Violence against women is a persistent, widespread, and worsening global crisis that demands immediate action. It is rooted in structural injustice and fueled by a male-dominated culture that denies women equality. Together, we must invest in prevention, support survivors, end impunity, and promote women’s leadership to create a world free from violence against women,” said Dr. Leila Joudane, Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and chair of the UN GTG.

Among the UN GTG members that contributed to the exhibit are UNFPA, UN Women, UNICEF, UN Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organization, World Food Programme, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Food and Agriculture Organization. “The ‘Walk in Her Shoes’ exhibit is a creative and impactful way to raise awareness about gender-based violence and encourage action to end it,” she added. “Through this exhibit and other means like social media, we must work together to raise public consciousness and action in order to protect women and children from becoming victims of violence in their own homes, communities and even online,” said Senator Pia Cayetano.

As a strong advocate of women’s rights and gender equality for nearly two decades, Senator Pia Cayetano has championed legislation to safeguard women and children from various forms of violence. These measures include: Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710); National Consciousness Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women & Children (RA 10398); Anti-Rape Law, as amended (RA 11648); Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 10364); Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act (RA 9995:); Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (RA 10821); and the landmark Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RA 10354). Through the support of Senator Cayetano, the exhibit is easily accessible to legislators and policymakers, who play a crucial role in creating an enabling environment for women and girls to realize their full potential.

Joudane said the UN agencies under the GTG are committed to supporting the Philippine government’s efforts to end VAW. Through its programs, the UN ensures that the rights of women to live a life free from violence are at the forefront of its work. This includes UNICEF supporting child protection centers, strengthening child protection in emergencies, and leading the SaferKidsPH initiative to prevent online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. WFP empowers women and tackles gender-based violence by weaving gender-responsive approaches into food aid, aiming to build resilience and challenge harmful norms.

The ILO is also strongly advocating for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 (C190) to end violence and harassment in the workplace. The Senate has moved closer to concur this first international landmark treaty that recognizes everyone’s right to a workplace free from harassment and violence, including for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). It also has various development cooperation projects like Safe and Fair (SAF), Ship to Shore Rights, and Improving Worker Rights in Rural Sectors focusing on the protection of migrant women workers and those in the rural sector. UN Women supports national and local government agencies in adapting and institutionalizing policies and mechanisms that provides for services and enables duty bearers deliver on their work to address and eliminate GBV through supporting localisation of ordinances, sensitizing responders including law enforcement agencies, supporting CSOs and creating platforms for stakeholders to work together including wide public awareness across various platforms.

Meanwhile, UNFPA fights gender-based violence on multiple fronts: (1) shifting harmful norms through comprehensive sexuality education and multi-sectoral work, (2) building strong systems by collaborating with government agencies and organizations to ensure access to comprehensive, survivor-centered services in response to GBV, even in crises and online spaces, (3) empowering young leaders by equipping youth with tools and resources to raise awareness, prevent GBV, and champion gender equality. “‘Walk in Her Shoes’ is a call to action to understand the situation of women and girls as they navigate a society that often puts them at risk of violence. The exhibit, which was also displayed at the United Nations office in Mandaluyong from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3, encourages visitors to put themselves in the shoes of these women and girls and understand the challenges they face. It also aims to open a discussion with policymakers and decision makers on effective strategies for prevention and response to gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that affects one in three women and girls worldwide. “It is a violation of human rights and a barrier to achieving gender equality and sustainable development,” said Joudane. Based on the 2022 Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 18% of Filipino women who had a husband/intimate partner report having experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their most recent intimate partner. But of the women who experienced gender-based violence, 2 out of 5 did not seek help.

After the 18 Days Campaign, the UN GTG plans to bring the exhibit to different public spaces throughout the Philippines to reach a wider audience and to advocate for joint programs that address VAW. “The fight against GBV requires a whole-of-society approach. By uniting, we amplify our impact and become a formidable force in combating VAW and GBV,” Joudane said.


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