VP Leni: Comprehensive empowerment key to supporting Gender-Based Violence (GBV) survivors
If elected to the highest office in the land, Vice President Leni Robredo will prioritize providing holistic empowerment for the survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV.)
The “Kamustahan with Leni” virtual forum with Bataan for Leni, Olongapo for Leni 2022 Coalition, and Kakampinks from Zambales last week, was attended by multi-sectoral groups representing the youth, fisherfolks, farmers, LGBTQIA+ community, senior citizens, and PWDs, among others.
Alma Bulawan, a GBV survivor and a member of the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women - Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) asked Robredo how she would respond to their needs and issues, especially those who are victims of sexual exploitation.
“Ako talaga number one kasi sa akin talaga, Alma, economic empowerment, kasi ito 'yung nakita ko na pinakamabisa saka pinakamabilis na paraan na 'yung babae nalalampasan niya 'yung trauma na pinagdaanan niya, pag siya ay nabibigyan ng malaking opportunity para magkaroon ng sarili niyang hanapbuhay.” Robredo said.
Robredo draws from her experience handling cases of violence against women and children when she served as a volunteer lawyer with the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal (SALIGAN) before she entered politics in 2013.
She noted the importance of RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act as well as other laws that punish not just physical and sexual violence, but also includes psychological and economic abuse often experienced by women.
Aside from economic empowerment, Robredo emphasized the importance of holistic empowerment, including healing from trauma, as well as advocacy and self-organizing, as critical areas needed for successfully addressing inequalities.
For Robredo, access to women’s organizations on the ground for a support system also adds another layer of protection for survivors of abuse.
“Pero ako, ang naging mabisa para sa akin, in my observation Alma, napakaimportante ng mga organisasyon on the ground, organisasyon na mga kababaihan na pag merong nagiging biktima, may sumasalo sa kanila at may napupuntahan sila kasi ito 'yung nagpapalakas ng loob nila.” Robredo said.
Robredo plans to strengthen capacity-building for these organizations to create more spaces of support and feminist care for GBV survivors.
In an online forum with the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), Robredo said: “Women empowerment is the one weapon that women need for them to thwart the abuses that they have been getting from their abusers.” She added that women empowerment includes economic autonomy, which can only be achieved if they are given equal access to opportunities.
“And when we say opportunity, it’s really access. It’s access to skills training, it’s access to capital, it’s access to mentoring, it’s access to markets.” Robredo explained. During the pandemic, the OVP tapped women’s sewing groups not just to help address the demand for PPEs, but to also support their livelihoods.
Robredo is known as a staunch advocate of women empowerment, one of the priorities of Angat Buhay, her flagship anti-poverty program.
In 2018, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) launched #RespetoNaman, a nationwide campaign against gender-based violence. In partnership with the University of the Philippines Center for Women and Gender Studies (UP-CWGS), her office also created Angat Bayi, a program centered on capacity-building for women political leaders.
The OVP has also conducted workshops for aspiring women entrepreneurs. One of its beneficiaries, Maricel Pontillas, was present at the online meet-and-greet and shared how the OVP workshop helped her business survive during the pandemic.
Robredo vowed to continue and create more of these efforts when elected President. [End]