Pia urges equal opportunities for women

Women should be given equal opportunities in leadership and decision making, including in the military establishment.

This was underscored by Senator Pia S. Cayetano in her interpellation of the proposed budget of the Department of National Defense (DND), held around midnight of Friday (November 11).

Opening her interpellation, Cayetano inquired whether the women military officers who were seated in the session hall audience gallery were part of the DND leadership at the VIP gallery assisting the defense budget’s sponsor, Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa.

“Mr President, I direct my question to the Chairman [Sen Dela Rosa]. I suppose the people beside you, except for the women here, and behind here [referring to women officers seated in the gallery], are all part of the leadership of DND, correct? Is there any woman in the leadership group?” she asked.

To which the sponsor, Senator Dela Rosa, replied that it is the protocol of the military estabishment to to take care of women, and to not place them at the ‘frontline.’

“That is a gentlemanly answer. Pero that can be a form of discrimination because, [in] your desire to protect [women], you may not be giving them the opportunities to advance in their career to prove themselves. I do not put any malice there, I believe you,” Cayetano said.

“I will share with you the same comments I make when I talk to a governor or a mayor, and I ask about gender equality and women representation in their political parties, and they say to me, ‘ay ito ma’am, may isa kaming babae.’ [But] we are not talking about one – we’re talking about serious representation,” she stressed.

In response, Dela Rosa noted that the military’s chief nurse and surgeon-general are both women one-star generals. He also shared that female cadets now comprise 25 percent in the Philppine Military Academy (PMA).

“And maybe starting next year or the following year, you will see more female officers holding sensitive positions. Dahil yung mga female graduate na babae are already full colonels. And so they will be holding command positions, like brigade commander. We have battalion commanders who are female,” Dela Rosa explained.

Cayetano acknowledged the information shared by Dela Rosa: With the background you gave me, I am quite confident. And to emphasize my point, that is Sustainable Development Goal 5. Target 5.5 states that we ‘ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunity for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.'”

“The [military service] used to be a man’s world, but it’s a world where we know we will do better if women have equal representation,” she concluded. #

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