Ngayong may pandemya, kumusta ka nga ba Juana?

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) October 2020 labor force survey, labor force participation rate was lower among women at 45% compared to men at 72.3%. This is the highest decline in terms of year-on-year employment growth rate with arts, entertainment, and recreation industry at 38.2% followed by 33.2% in accommodation and food service. These are the industries where the labor force consists mostly of women but is hard hit by the pandemic. Many opted to close or limit operating hours which resulted to non-hiring and displacement of many working women. Women also makae up most of the healthcare workforce who led the battle against COVID-19. Women carried the burden of heavy workload and health risks.

Aside from the drastic impact of the pandemic to our economy, domestic violence made a record rise during the lockdown. Schools redesigned mode of instruction from face-to-face learning to blended and virtual learning. Mothers, albeit unprepared, were forced to handle home schooling, juggling with it household responsibilities, work, and childcare. This is the COVID-19 battle scene and at the forefront are our women.

Although progress towards gender equality has been made, COVID-19 has taken a toll and pushed back the progress made. Despite the setback, women saw the health crises as an opportunity and took a brave stance to manage the situation and move forward.

With social media as an avenue to promote, homegrown businesses thrived during the months that the nation was in lockdown. Parents, especially the mothers, have acknowledged that they have to re-learn their primary or secondary subjects to supplement online classes. Health frontliners maintained work-home balance; women were superheroes in medical scrubs. Women rose above the pandemic and “normalized” the new normal.

Pili Water District believes in the power of women to be agents of change, to lead and to inspire men and women amidst the pandemic. It upholds empowerment of women and provides the necessary support to achieve that end. To adopt gender mainstreaming, the district annually conducts Gender Sensitivity Training that aims to raise gender awareness in the workplace, promote gender equality and resolve gender issues among its employees. PIWAD also supports maternal functions of its women employees and concessionaires and has provided for a breastfeeding room at the lobby to accommodate lactating mothers and infants. In all its development and rehabilitation projects, PIWAD have every intention to look after the need for a safe and reliable water for health, sanitation and hygiene of women, men, boys’ and girls’ stakeholders. The district strongly supports its Gender and Development (GAD) plans and programs. Despite the cancellation of some capacity development programs due to compliance to safety protocols, the District with its GAD Focal Point System Technical Working Group (TWG) ensures that gender responsiveness is in place in the District’s system, policies and procedures.

PIWAD’s celebration of this year’s National Women’s Month may be limited due to restrictions posed by the pandemic but it continuously commits itself to apply gender-sensitive measures to promote gender equality in the workplace and protect the men and women employees as well as the concessionaires especially through these trying times.

There is still so much to be done in the journey to gender equality. The world may never be the same even after this pandemic but women have no intention of stopping in recreating a better and more empowering world for humanity. So, every time an opportunity to progress is offered, grab that keyboard of creativity and positivity and type “Mine”, a conviction that this fight for empowerment and equality is ours. Time will come hopefully not for long, a more equal world will be “Ours Madam”, delivered at our doorsteps.

We got this, Juana. Mabuhay tayo!

Written By: Marijean C. Molina