Two thousand fifteen is just half a decade away. That means we only have five more years to make a tangible and visible change in the lives of millions of people especially those in the developing world. That means we have five New Years and Christmases more before we can completely fulfill our promise to the world’s poorest people.
So much to do and so little time. Let’s not forget that we didn’t only make one or two promises. We made eight promises based on the Millennium Development Goals and we simply cannot let the developing world down. Gender empowerment is one particular goal which we still need to heavily work on, considering that many developing countries and patriarchal societies have yet to break free from the shackles of gender stereotyping. Gender empowerment may even be one of the most crucial keys towards achieving the rest of the other goals like poverty, hunger, and health.
Although there have been numerous efforts in achieving gender empowerment and equality in development countries, it’s safe to say that more often than not, many such initiatives wither before they can actually take root. This snuffs out the sparks of hope that many disadvantaged women rely on to break free from the vicious cycle of violence and poverty. Yet despite the fact there have been many failed programs and failed attempts for women, there are also success stories worthy of drawing inspiration from. One such example is that of Naga City in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.
According to a report in the PhilGAD Portal of the National Commission of the Role of Filipino Women entitled “Women Empowerment and Development: the Experience of Naga City,” laws and ordinances geared towards promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality, partnerships between the public and private sectors, and budget commitments are essential elements in ensuring that initiatives for women are both institutionalized and sustainable.
The Women Development Code of Naga City can be considered a great step in the city’s efforts to actualize the potentials of many women. The code doesn’t only identify key gender issues like low participation of women in the economic sector, domestic violence, commoditization, and the like, but it points out key solutions in targeting many of these issues thereby allowing more women to break the glass the ceiling.
The code empowers many women NGOs by ensuring that women as a disadvantaged sector are well represented in many of the government’s standing committees. Apart from that, the budget for gender empowerment has also been increased to ensure that the programs and services for women are made more sustainable in the long run. Summits for women have also been held in order to ensure that emerging issues are identified and addressed. The code has also paved the way for a more gender sensitive framework in the education curricula.
Naga City’s efforts are inspiring in that despite the challenge posed by limited resources, initiatives continue to be made in order to solve existing problems on gender. If Naga City was able to pull it off, there is no reason why other cities in developing nations can’t. This is the perfect example of thinking globally and yet acting locally.