Statements/Messages from the UN in the Philippines

Message of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Philippines on United Nations Day 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Department of Foreign Affairs for coming together with us at the United Nations, in this traditional celebration of UN Day here in Manila.  A special thank you to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr for taking time from his very busy schedule to join in person [alt who represents him].  And thank you to all our guests for contributing to this evening with your presence.  To SM for allowing us to use this beautiful hall at no cost, and last but certainly not least, to my colleagues who have worked very hard with our friends and colleagues in DFA to prepare this evening for us.

Tonight, is a celebration of the 74th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter, on 24 October 1945.  This of course followed the conclusion of the San Francisco conference on 26 June the same year with the signing of the Charter by 50 of its 51 charter members (Poland would sign two months later), and with the Philippines as a Charter member represented by the Honorable Carlos P. Romulo – who later went on to become the President of the fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 to 1950!

So, it is a festive occasion and we will soon go on to enjoy the performance of Repertoire Philippines in a rendition of music from Broadway, in what will allow us to associate the musical themes we hear with the Sustainable Development Goals.

But, it is also a solemn occasion and I feel we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to reflect on the intentions of our founding fathers and mothers in the context of the world as it was 74 years ago, and how that translates to the world we live in today.  So, bear with me and let’s remind ourselves of the Preamble of the Charter which beautifully captures the context and foundation of the United Nations.  It reads:

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINE

  • to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

 
AND FOR THESE ENDS

  • to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
  • to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
  • to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
  • to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,

HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS.

I hope you agree with me that these are principles that are as relevant in today’s world as they were then, even though the generation that, “twice in our lifetime”, had experienced the scourge of war has largely faded, and most of the political and economic power has been transferred to the baby-boomers of the post WW II generation.  For the generations that follow – generation X, generation Y (or the so called millennials), and generation Z, the memory of what led to the formation of the United Nations may now be rather vague…

But in fact, as we all know, the world we live in continues to be confronted by extra-ordinary and urgent challenges.  Challenges that include seemingly unextractable conflict – bringing misery to those affected and causing millions into forced displacement.  Challenges in the uneven distribution of resources between the very rich and the very poor.  And perhaps the most urgent challenge of all, our impact on the environment, the depletion of natural resources, the fact that these effects are already irreversible and if not reined in, will change our world in more ways than we can imagine, with detrimental effects on its population – not only on humans but also on the many species, estimated today at one million, at risk of extinction, forever…

These are challenges that are cross-boundary in their nature, that cannot be solved by individual nations attempting to stand strong on their own.  Challenges that require multi-lateral solutions, across nations, regions and peoples.  And I find it encouraging, that it is now generation Z, those born in this new millennium, who are stepping up and raise their voices, demanding solutions from world leaders, solutions that are not only looking to prosperity for the individual but for a sustainable future for the world and its global population.  In the words of Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit:  “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight”.

It is encouraging that she speaks at the United Nations General Assembly, for what better forum to listen to her and to act on her call.  On its 74th anniversary, the United Nations remains unique as the only world body, now with a membership of 193 countries, where each member has an equal vote, an equal voice and an equal right to be listened to.  But where each member also has a responsibility to act in accordance with the Charter and international conventions and treaties entered into, in the interest of all, across borders and beyond self-interest, be it for peace, for social and economic development, or for human rights.

And I find it encouraging that the members of the United Nations have come together, four years ago, in a partnership and a commitment to address these challenges through the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

So how is that partnership manifesting itself here in the Philippines?  Well, there are two dimensions to it:

First, the contribution by the Philippines to the global United Nations.  Ever since the Philippines signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco back in 1945 and as we know, the Philippines has been and continues to be a very active Member State, engaging with its fellow Member States; contributing to the work of the Organization; and influencing the course of its decisions.  We have recently seen that on a number of occasions, be it in the Philippines’ contributions to and participation in the Global Compact for Migration; in the Global Compact on Refugees; in its participation in the High-Level Political Forum of ECOSOC, where it presented its second – one of a small number of Member States to do so – Voluntary National Review on progress in implementing the SDGs; or on the many other occasions that the Philippines has participated in and contributed to the work of the Organization in the past year.  I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Organization, to express our appreciation.

Second, the partnership between the United Nations and the Philippines for development, humanitarian action and peacebuilding here in the Philippines.  This is articulated in the Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development that was signed between the government, witnessed by the Human Development Network in the Philippines, our Civil Society Advisory Committee and our Youth Advisory Board at the end of last year.  The Partnership Framework is the covenant between the Government of the Philippines and the UN towards the achievement of the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan and its longer-term vision Ambisyon Natin 2040.

It is the first Philippines – UN country plan that redefines the nature of UN System engagement in the Philippines from one that provides “development assistance” to a collaboration in a strategic partnership.  As an initial investment in a longer-term UN support to Agenda 2030, it recognizes the Philippines’ achievements along core dimensions of development going back to 1990.  It directs the attention and resources of the United Nations Country Team, consisting of 17 funds, programmes and specialized agencies, striving to “Deliver as One”, specifically to those areas where advances have been the most severely challenged over time, mapped over the PDP priorities and organized through a 2030 Agenda lens into three pillars: “people” “prosperity and planet” and “peace”.

On behalf of the UN Country Team in the Philippines, I take this opportunity to express our appreciation to our national counterparts, across government at national and regional level, civil society, the private sector and the academe, and the general public, for their confidence in us, and for the cooperation they offer in this great venture.  And I also take the opportunity to express our appreciation to the bilateral partners of the Philippines, who channel contributions through the United Nations and make our work here possible.  Please keep those resources coming, your engagement matters a great deal J.

Finally on my part, and looking forward, 2020 that is soon upon us, will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.  Rather than making 2020 a commemoration and celebration over the work of the United Nations from its birth until turning 75, the Secretary-General has announced that we will use this as a pretext to rejuvenate global cooperation in a dialogue across the world on the future we aspire to, the threats to that future, and the tools needed for global cooperation to overcome these threats.  A UN@75 and Beyond campaign will launch “the biggest global conversation on how we will navigate this turbulent period for the world”, asking the questions: what world do we want to create for current and future generations; where is the world heading now; what action is needed to close the gap that surely exists between these two?

Hopefully, the answers to the questions and the solutions that should spring from these will go at least some way to respond to Greta Thunberg and those in generation Z, Y and Z as the baby boomers hand over power to the generations that follow.  And the answers should fuel the decade of action ahead of us if we are to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda!

We look forward to continue our work here in the Philippines, with the Philippines, towards the achievement of the prosperous future that we wish for our children and their children in generations to come.

Thank you very much for being here with us tonight, I hope you will enjoy the evening.

Mabuhay United Nations!
Mabuhay Philippines!

— Ola Almgren

Welcome Address of the United Nations Resident Coordinator at the 2019 Social Good Summit

21 September 2019

Ten years ago, Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Department Programme teamed up to launch the Social Good Summit.

The Social Good Summit is a collective effort to tackle the most important issues of our time. It brings together global leaders and activists for a day of constructive dialogue and onstage activations.

Every Summit has always had a powerful lasting impact. Activism is celebrated and attendees are galvanized into action. In the Philippines, Rappler has been leading the Summit, with equally impactful results, and I would like to thank Maria Ressa and acknowledge our friends at Rappler for convening the Summit in the Philippines with a view to sparking action in our digital age.

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Four years after the adoption of the SDGs, the picture is not so rosy. No country is on track to meeting all the goals. In particular, half of the world’s nations are likely to miss the targets for SDG 1 (No Poverty).

We are losing ground in other areas. One million species are threatened with extinction, We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. While high-income countries, particularly the Nordic countries, topped the global ranking for SDG achievement, they obtained their worst ratings on SDG 14 (Life Below water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land). Young people around the world are taking to the street to protest the lack of environmental action by governments and businesses.

We are confronted by threats arising from climate crisis, poverty and inequality, protracted conflict, migration and displacement, and the rapid changes in demography and technology. These will require effective cooperation across borders, sectors and generations. Failure to do so will have far-reaching consequences for the welfare of our children and grandchildren —and our planet itself.

But just when we need bold collective action more than ever, multilateralism is being called into question. Unilateralism is on the rise, as the world becomes more multipolar but also more polarized. In many parts of the world, there is a growing disconnect between people and institutions. Renewed support for global cooperation could not be more urgent.

That urgency is the driving factor for the UN as it turns 75 next year.

The year 2020 will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Our 75th year will be less of a celebration, but rather a pretext to seek means to rejuvenate global cooperation through dialogues across the world around the future people aspire to, the threats to that future, and the tools needed for global cooperation to overcome these threats and support the road to the future they seek.

The “UN@75 and Beyond” campaign will launch “the biggest global conversation on how we will navigate this turbulent period for the world.”

Dialogues will be held at the global, regional, national and local levels and will be convened by member States, civil society, academia, labor and business groups, the youth, and by the UN itself, under the direct leadership of the Secretary-General. These dialogues will be framed by three questions:

The first is, “What kind of a world do we want to create?” Let’s pause briefly to imagine the world in 2045—when the UN turns 100. What kind of future would we have then bequeathed to our grandchildren?

The second question is, “Where is the world heading?” What would 2045 look like if current trends continue? Will we have achieved the Sustainable Development Goals and addressed the threats we face at present? Or could we expect a different set of challenges to have emerged?

Finally, we will ask ourselves, “What action is needed to close the gap—the difference between the future we want and the future that our children will probably inherit?”

These dialogues, which will be conducted throughout 2020, will produce the first-ever repository of crowd-sourced global solutions. The United Nations will set up both digital and analog feedback loops to gather views and recommendations and solutions emerging from the dialogues.

In the same way that the My World Survey, which was conducted from 2008 to 2012, and in which people were asked to name their most urgent needs, helped to shape the SDGs, UN@75 hopes to inspire us to further reimagine the future, and to restore or reinforce our confidence in an inclusive multilateralism as the most effective way to overcome the challenges of our current era.

The United Nations is continuously working to earn your confidence. As we enter a decade of action on the SDGs, and as we ask for more urgency and ambition on climate change, with 2020 being a crucial year, the United Nations will continue to evolve in step with current and emerging needs in order to remain relevant to all. The United Nations refuses to get stuck in old ways of doing things, running faster and faster only to stay in the same place. Rather, we are taking a giant leap of faith, with you, to get ahead of the problems that stand in the way of the future we want. We will work tirelessly to be the UN you deserve.

On the other hand, we enjoin you, especially the youth, to help support the building of a networked and inclusive multilateralism through the power of social media.

We are all aware of the potentials as well as the pitfalls of using social media. On the one hand, it is unbeatable as a networking tool. At the same time, this same power could be used to further divide our world, to promote falsehood, and to sow hate. In other words, to further polarize our world.

Social media is a double-edged sword, but one that you, especially, could most effectively harness for good.

I invite you to continue to discover the social good, to push the boundaries of your online lives in order to engage just as enthusiastically in efforts to build our common future. We are excited to see how your online engagement ripens into offline action that will have a transformative impact on your personal lives, your families, and your communities.

The SDGs are a roadmap to our collective future, but you and your children have a greater stake in their achievement. The world in 2030 and beyond is the future that you will inhabit. Make it a future that far exceeds the one that we have bequeathed to you. Create the future you need: it is within your reach.

I wish you all a very exciting Summit and look forward to hearing the voices and views of the impressive speakers here with us this afternoon.

Thank you. [Ends]

You may watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/unphilippines/videos/448244245786552/

Second chances

By Ola Almgren

In 2002, 19-year-old Radam Jalani, who lived in the small seaside village of Mercedes in Zamboanga City, was resigned to being a seaweed farmer for the rest of his life. When he was 12 years old, Radam’s father asked him to quit school to help his family scrape out a living from planting seaweed. The 10 years that followed stretched out like a lifetime for Radam, taking him farther and farther away from school. And yet, just six years after contemplating a future he thought he could not escape, Radam began to live the life he had chosen for himself.

Radam returned to school. As a teacher.

Through the Department of Education (DepEd)’s Alternative Learning System (ALS), Radam completed his Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEEd) degree. He has been teaching the second grade class at his old school since June 2018.

The UNICEF Education Programme in the Philippines supports the ALS program by enhancing the capacity of the Government to provide holistic, equitable and inclusive education for all children and adolescents. UNICEF Philippines has developed priority actions targeting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged girls and boys, who have limited access to learning opportunities due to poverty, armed conflict, social discrimination or health issues.

Not too far away from Radam, Rijal Ibrahim Rasul and Jewelyn Baguio watched helplessly as their lives were turned upside down by the 2013 Zamboanga siege. Rijal had dropped out of college to sell fish with his father. When the conflict had passed, Rijal tried to find better work but he found his options severely limited by his age, religion and inadequate education. Jewelyn took a long time to recover from the trauma of hearing gunshots and had to stop working.

Rijal and Jewelyn needed to make a living but the disruption in their lives had affected their ability to find decent work. Help came through the United Nations (UN) Peacebuilding Support Office, where the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) helped young people like Rijal and Jewelyn to find jobs and sustainable livelihoods in Zamboanga.

The ILO worked with industry partners to transform education by matching skills with the demands of employers, thus enhancing youth employability. Rijal and Jewelyn were among those trained under a special course in hotel management. As they gained knowledge and skills, they also developed a positive mindset, which boosted their confidence. When Rijal and Jewelyn completed the course in 2017, they were immediately hired by one of the largest hotels in Zamboanga.

The Philippines has achieved near-universal primary enrolment rate at 94.2 as of 2017. Furthermore, in the past two years, the Government has substantially increased completion rates for primary and secondary education, by 8.4 and 10.3 percentage points, respectively. We commend the Government for progress on this front. However, we need to turn our attention to Filipino children and youth who should be in school, but are not.

According to the latest Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), one out of every 10 Filipinos aged 6 to 24 was out of school, and the prevalence has generally been higher among the older age groups. Of the 3.6 million out of school children and youth, 83.1 percent were 16 to 24 years old, 11.2 percent were 12 to 15 years old and 5.7 percent were 6 to 11 years old.

The high cost of education accounts for why many of the country’s children and youth are not in school. According to the APIS, financial difficulty was one of the top three reasons (17.9 percent), for not attending school. About half of all out-of-school children and youth belongs to the poorest 30 percent of Filipino families, most of whom live in rural, agricultural areas. In many instances, boys and girls have missed classes – or skipped school entirely – to help their families to put food on the table.

Yet, while poverty factors largely in school-leaving, it is not the foremost reason.

Early marriage and family matters topped the list of reasons, at 37 percent, followed by lack of interest, at 24.7 percent.

It is notable that the proportion of out-of-school children and youth was also higher among females (63.3 percent) than males (36.7 percent), and that for over half of all girls and young women that have had to leave school, early marriage or family matters were the leading causes. In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which has the highest percentage of out-of-school children and youth in the country, girls have a particularly hard time staying in school. Household chores, and poor menstrual hygiene management, including the lack of appropriate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities in school, have driven girls to distraction, causing them to miss classes and thereafter to stay away from school.

In order to reduce drop-out rates, it is necessary to curb the high incidence of early pregnancy  among young Filipinos. The Department of Education, with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is leading the implementation of an age- and development-appropriate Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum that will also be implemented in Alternative Learning Systems (ALS).

CSE is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about cognitive, emotional, physical, and social aspects of sexuality and reproductive health. It will equip young Filipinos with the correct information and appropriate life skills that would enable them to make responsible decision-making and respectful behavior, protecting their health, well-being and dignity. Apart from reducing the incidence of early pregnancy, CSE also seeks to address violence, particularly bullying, and HIV infection.

By adopting the 2030 Agenda, UN Member States, including the Philippines, have committed to Leave No One Behind in their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All people, regardless of their backgrounds, have rights and responsibilities to fulfill their potential in life, including out-of-school youth.

Tacking the persistent disparities in education participation and promoting education enrollment and quality is also a government strategy to address the challenges to inclusive growth, as highlighted in the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the Duterte Administration: “Invest in human capital development, including health and education systems, and match skills and training to meet the demand of businesses and the private sector.”

Beyond the classroom, opportunities for young people who are not in school are growing. There are now many ways to transition from school or out-of-school to work or event entrepreneurship. Non-formal education should not be seen as an alternative to formal education, but rather recognized for its complementariness in providing a more fully rounded and skills-based approach, to equip young people to meet the competing demands of the workforce. Youth engagement is crucial to bringing about more relevant, equitable and inclusive education.

On August 12, we celebrate International Youth Day. This year’s theme, “Transforming Education,” resonates in the work that the Government and UN agencies are doing to make education fit the learner, and not the other way around. To find solutions to ensure that children and young people who have fallen back are not left behind. To give the Radam Jalanis of this country the one thing that could turn their life around: a second chance. [Ends]

Ola Almgren is the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the United Nations in the Philippines.

This op-ed was published on 12 August 2019, International Youth Day.

The United Nations stands with Pride

by Ola Almgren*

This Pride Month, the United Nations (UN) in the Philippines stands in solidarity with the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) Filipinos, their families, friends and allies in their pursuit of equality, inclusion and pride.

The struggle for the rights of LGBTQI people is a core part of the struggle for the full and equal enjoyment of human rights by all.

The very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

All human beings – not some, not most, but all.

Continue reading 

UN Secretary-General’s Message on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June 2019

The world drug problem is one of the most challenging issues we face. It has wide-ranging impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities, as well as on the security and sustainable development of nations.

Therefore, preventing and addressing drug challenges in all their complexity is essential to delivering on a fundamental global pledge, enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave no one behind.

National priorities may differ, but the international community shares a common goal to protect people’s security and well-being, while striving for the progress and dignity of all.

I welcome the theme of this International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – “health for justice, justice for health” – underlining the importance of a holistic approach involving health, human rights, criminal justice and social service institutions.

This comprehensive response guided the drug policy launched by my government when I was Prime Minister of Portugal two decades ago.

Earlier this year, at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Member States committed to “working together for rights- and health-based responses to drugs so that people can live in health, dignity and peace, with security and prosperity”.

I call on all governments to live up to this pledge. This means cracking down on drug trafficking and those who profit from human misery, including by enhanced international cooperation and intelligence-sharing across the entire drug supply chain. It also means human rights-based, gender- and age-sensitive prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug use and HIV, offered without stigma or discrimination. It also means law enforcement approaches that protect people from violence and criminal exploitation.

Families, schools and communities play a crucial role, especially in supporting youth who may be affected by drug abuse with terrible and long-lasting consequences. Let us work with and for young people to prevent drug use and help young people lead healthier lives and navigate life choices with strength and resilience.

On this International Day, let us show our commitment to fulfilling our promise to ensure health and justice for all.

[Ends]

UN Philippines Message on International Women’s Day 2019

By Ola Almgren*

Manila, 8 March 2019–At the start of this year, a Filipino scientist became one of the directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world’s preeminent organization for nuclear technology and its safe and peaceful applications.

The Filipino scientist is a woman–Dr. Jane Gerardo-Abaya. She now leads the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation Asia and the Pacific Division which provides technical cooperation support to 37 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific.

Dr. Abaya’s appointment reverberated among Filipino communities around the world and was cited by the Philippine government as a remarkable achievement in the country’s efforts to increase women’s representation at national and global centers of power.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. The theme puts innovation at the centre of efforts to build solutions that work for women and girls and achieve gender equality.

Last February 22, in observance of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, the International Labour Organization (ILO) cited four Filipino women that have distinguished themselves in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM): Aileen Judan Jiao, president and country general manager of IBM Philippines and the first Filipina leader of the company; Ambe Tierro, senior managing director for global artificial intelligence of Accenture Technologies; Maria Cristina Coronel, president and chief executive officer of Pointwest Technologies; and Michie Ang, founding director of Women Who Code Manila.

Dr. Abaya and these four other Filipina game changers in STEM are truly exceptional.  Their achievements, and others with them, are examples of what has contributed to placing the Philippines among the top ten countries of the 2018 Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum that benchmarks 149 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.

Still, as we congratulate the Philippines on this achievement, much remains to be done before the Philippines can truly claim to have attained Sustainable Development Goal 5, to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls – with the other goals of the 2030 Agenda that also need to be achieved to support this objective.  In fact and unfortunately, many women in the Philippines continue to face existential challenges on a daily basis.

These challenges include threats to their lives from childbirth.  Today, out of 100,000 Filipino women who give birth, 114 do not survive. This maternal mortality rate is higher than in other countries in Southeast Asia. It is a long way off from the Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing maternal deaths to less than 70 out of every 100,000 live births.  The recent adoption of the Universal Health Care Act, or Republic Act 11223, if fully implemented, will go a long way in addressing weaknesses of the health system that have failed to prevent deaths resulting from complications related to pregnancy.  As the Philippines moves forward, let’s all join in the call that “no woman should die while giving life”.

They also include exposure to sexual violence.  According to the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2017, 14-15% of Filipino girls as young as 13 to 17 years old have been sexually violated.  The same survey showed that two in five women, from 15 to 49 years old, have experienced physical or sexual violence and have NEVER told anyone about what had happened to them nor sought help to put an end to their torment.  And let’s not forget that young boys have also been victimized. In fact, by almost 6 percentage points, more boys than girls in the ages of 13 to 17 have experienced sexual violence.  We welcome ongoing legislative advocacy to strengthen the Anti-Rape Law in order to raise the age of consent from below 12 to 16, and to remove the “forgiveness clause” by which the subsequent marriage between the offender and the victim extinguishes the criminal action or the corresponding penalty.  Let’s all come together in a resolve that latest by 2030, all girls and women should be free of sexual violence, as should boys and men.

The four dimensions of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Gender Gap Report do not fully account for conditions that continue to hold Filipino women back in some areas, but they reflect unmistakable progress that has been achieved in improving the lives and well-being of Filipino women and girls over the years.  They also affirm that an all-of-society approach involving the government, civil society and other stakeholders can finally bridge a chasm that is as old as humanity itself.

By the same convergence of purpose, outstanding contributions by women will continue to advance society; mothers will live to see their children being born; and all persons, regardless of gender, will be free from sexual violence.

This is the future envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals and with our shared resolve and action, by 2030 we will be able to celebrate the realization of full gender equality on every 8 of March, International Women’s Day. [Ends]

* Ola Almgren is the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the Philippines.