CFO Chairperson, Justice Francisco P. Acosta, assured the public of the Commission’s commitment in improving its existing online services
for women migrants, their children, and other youth migrants while battling the pandemic

March is National Women’s Month!

Set in the COVID-19 pandemic backdrop, this year’s theme, “Juana Laban sa Pandemya, Kaya!” puts emphasis on women’s participation and role in battling the pandemic, as well as in confronting gender issues worsened by the health emergency.

A year after the COVID-19 global pandemic struck, almost everyone is still struggling, from managing pandemic response to mental health problems or deteriorating socio-economic conditions. Most of International and national events that used to be big public gatherings are now being celebrated virtually, including the 2021 National Women’s Month Celebration.

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) was not deterred by the ongoing public health crisis in celebrating Women’s Month as it organized a series of online and physical activities. These activities are the Commission’s tribute to women who play a vibrant and dynamic role in our society, whether in the Philippines or abroad.

1. Kick-off ceremony with CFO Secretary, Justice Francisco P. Acosta (Ret.)

During the kick-off activity of Women’s Month celebration held via Zoom on March 1, 2021, CFO Chairperson, Justice Francisco P. Acosta, heralded all women as warriors of immeasurable extent, who continue to master the art of conquering the challenges of today’s uncertain times as brought on by the pandemic. He also underscored that the pandemic aggravated gender-related vulnerabilities that women are exposed to. Despite this, they still keep their heads high while facing the real fight towards attaining gender equality, he further added.

2. Online Launching of the 2021 National Women’s Month Celebration

The Gender and Development Focal Point System (GFPS) of CFO led the launching of the activities for the celebration of the National Women’s Month during CFO’s online flag ceremony, through an Online WomenWin Quiz Show.

The quiz show tested the awareness of the CFO personnel on national and international women icons and historical events relating to women. They expressed their appreciation for this fun and educational activity as it highlighted the immense contribution of women to society, including closing gender disparity between men and women.

3. Men Opposed to Violence Against Women Everywhere (MOVE) Orientation

 

The CFO jointly organized with the Cavite State University a Webinar on “Men Opposed to Violence Against Women Everywhere (MOVE) last March 2, 2021. It was participated in by over 60 male personnel of the CFO.

The MOVE Orientation was aimed at enlightening CFO male personnel about gender issues and the lingering gender inequality in society as well as reinforcing gender equality and deconstructing existing bias and discriminatory acts against women.

 

After the webinar, several CFO male personnel expressed their insights. Mr. Erwin Paul Cristobal believes that men should be the foremost partners in fighting violence against women and that gender parity should be the norm, not the exception. For Mr. Arnel Sual, men or husbands who do household chores shouldn’t lose face, as it means sharing of responsibilities with their female partner or wife.

4. Telecounseling and Webinar Series for Filipino Spouses or Partners of Foreign Nationals

In recognition of the increased exposure of women migrants to various gender-related concerns brought on by the global pandemic, the CFO introduced Telecounseling for Filipino spouses or partners of foreign nationals immediately with the onset of the quarantine measures last year.

Telecounseling, in which the CFO Counselors conduct a scheduled online individual counseling, is an alternative to the actual conduct of the Guidance and Counseling Program. This serves as a channel for providing marriage and fiancée migrants with adequate information and advice on the realities of intermarriage and migration, rights and obligations overseas; available support network for migrants in distress; and cultural and social realities overseas. Emigrants are also encouraged to openly express and discuss their particular concerns about migration and their cross-cultural relationships through this platform.

This innovation further improves the Commission’s existing services for women migrants, their children, and other youth migrants. This also reinforces the provision of welfare services to women migrants.

To further promote awareness on the realities of marriage migration, the CFO conducted Ang Ibayo kong Pag-Ibig, a webinar on the Issues of Filipinos in Intermarriage on 10 March 2021. Topics included the demographic profile of Filipinos in intermarriage, areas of concern on inter-racial relationships, salient features of the Republic Act 9208 as amended, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Republic Act 10906 or the Anti-Mail Order Spouse Act. It was attended by around 72 participants from various local government units.

On 30 March 2021, the CFO implemented the first series of its Human, Hindi Laruan Anti-Trafficking Webinar Series entitled Crazy Little Tour Called Love. Resource speakers from the CFO, Department of Tourism and the Bureau of Immigration presented various issues on how tourism is being used to exploit Filipinos, especially women, and the government’s intervention to prevent possible human trafficking. The event was attended by at least 80 participants from the local government units and tourism-related organizations. The second episode of this Webinar Seminar was aired on 13 April 2021.

 

 

The officers of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas together with Mr. Ryan Sebastian of DOT and Ms. Jessa Mae Pioquinto of BI
expressed their commitment in enhancing information drive to inform the public about human trafficking

5. CFO Live’s Ozapang Pinoy for Filipino Emigrants bound for Australia

The CFO hosted its first episode of CFO Live! entitled OZapang Pinoy, featuring relevant information for Filipino emigrants bound for Australia. It was livestreamed via Streamyard and Facebook Live.

The 2-hour online activity addressed the challenges faced by Filipino emigrants. Invited resource speakers responded to the frequently asked questions by prospective migrants concerning settlement concerns, adjustments to environment, and work culture. The speakers themselves experienced these concerns during their first few years of settlement in Australia. They admitted that while they are greatly affected by the pandemic, they are enjoying their lives in the Land Down Under.

The activity paid tribute also to women in its segment CFO React. Viewers were invited to send messages to significant women in their lives and use the hashtag #SaludoAkoSaIyoNanay, #SaludoAkoSaIyoSis, #SaludoAkoSaIyoTita, #SaludoAkoSaIyoFriend, or #SaludoAkoSaIyoLola. CFO male officers’ quotes for women were also included in the said segment.

 

6. Advocacy Shirts and Banners

The CFO put up a customized streamer of the 2021 National Women’s Month on the façade of the CFO head office in Manila. It was also shared in the CFO website, as well as on the agency’s various social media platforms.

 

An advocacy shirt was also made for CFO employees bearing this year’s campaign theme.

 

 

7. Participation in Juana Laban sa Pandemya Online Forum

Members of the CFO-GAD Focal Point System participated in the Online Forum organized by the Philippine Commission on Women in partnership with UN Women Philippines.

The online forum worked as a platform of discussion on women’s experiences in dealing with the pandemic. Involvement of men in supporting their partners/ wives in facing the effects of the health crisis was also highlighted.

8. Interview Valencia City, Bukidnon LGU

The CFO was invited to participate in the Online Celebration of Women’s Month of the local government unit of Valencia City, Bukidnon through an interview with Undersecretary Astravel Pimentel-Naik. She shared the services and programs of the Commission, particularly for women migrants.

In the interview, Usec. Pimentel-Naik highlighted that the Philippine government has persistently shown its drive of advancing gender equality and promoting women empowerment. She also shared that the CFO is continuously striving to address the particular susceptibilities and situations of female migrants in every stage of the migration cycle, from pre-departure preparedness to integration in their host countries.

9. Participation in the Refresher Course on Gender Analysis Tools

The Technical Working Group of the CFO-GFPS participated in the Refresher Orientation on Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework (GMEF) of the PCW.

The GMEF is one of the gender analysis tools that measures the gender mainstreaming efforts of government agencies in line with the provisions of the Magna Carta of Women or Republic Act No. 9710.

10. Offline Muna si CFO Juana

All women personnel, regardless of their employment status, were granted a one-day leave for the month of March. Dubbed as Offline Muna si CFO Juana, this special privilege allowed the women employees to spend a break from the existing blended Work from Home arrangement and physically reporting to the office.

There was no deduction on the leave credits of permanent employees who availed of this optional time-off, nor deduction in salary for contractual employees.

11. Free Food for CFO Female Employees

As part of its annual tradition in the yearly celebration of the National Women’s Month, female employees were provided with free lunch

CFO female officers appreciating their complimentary food on the Commission’s kickoff ceremony of Women’s Month

12. Audio Visual Presentation for CFO Women

The CFO developed and produced a video giving tribute to its women employees who continue their steadfast service and commitment despite the ongoing pandemic.

 

Undersecretary Astravel Pimentel-Naik sharing her belief that together, women can wrestle the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In her video message, Undersecretary Astravel Pimentel-Naik empathized with all the women who have been going through many challenges since the pandemic started. She emphasized that despite all these, women still manage to care for their children, family, and even society. “All of us will get through this,” she added.