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Sen. Loren Legarda (far right) is a panelist at the IMF’s “Gender Coffee Chats: Advocating for Women’s Empowerment: Voices from the Field,” held at IMF headquarters in Washington on April 19, 2018. Shanti Uprety (center), Programme Officer of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific. joins her in the panel. Akshay Modi (left), Communications Officer at IMF, moderates the discussion.  (Philippine Embassy photo)


WASHINGTON — “Although the Philippines has been consistently number one in Southeast Asia and among the top ten countries in the world in terms of closing the gender gap, there are remaining challenges that must be addressed in order for Filipino women to realize their full potential,” Sen. Loren Legarda stated as she participated in the IMF’s “Gender Coffee Chats: Advocating for Women’s Empowerment: Voices from the Field,” held at IMF headquarters on April 19, 2018.

The senator briefed the audience on Philippine laws that uphold and protect women’s rights, promote their well-being, and give them access to resources to spur their development.

Noteworthy among them are the Magna Carta of Women, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and the Community Livelihood and Skills Training Act.

“But despite the Philippines doing well in terms of closing the gender gap, it is unfortunate that Filipino women and children continue to become victims of human trafficking, including online sexual exploitation,” Legarda said.

According to the UNICEF, the Philippines is the top global source of child pornography.

Eight out of every 10 Filipino children are at risk of online sexual abuse or bullying.

“I believe this is not due to the lack of domestic laws, rather the absence of stricter penalties for human traffickers and online sexual predators from other nations,” the senator stated.

The Philippines has highly developed policy and legal frameworks to combat trafficking in persons and the online exploitation of children.

The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 has been cited to boost the government’s capabilities to effectively prosecute perpetrators and undertake preventive actions.

“Human trafficking and cybercrime are transnational crimes. One country cannot solve these problems alone,” Legarda emphasized.

Climate change has also caused undue pressure on women in rural areas as it puts livelihoods at risk.

This also gives them a critical role in finding solutions to the climate challenge.

“Climate action is needed especially in rural areas. Women can do climate adaptation initiatives and the way forward is economic empowerment of women,” Legarda said.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, is the Alternate Head of the Philippine Delegation to the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., USA.