Speech of Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on the 68th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), 11 March 2024, UN Headquarters, New York

Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman delivered the country statement of the Philippines in the 3rd Plenary Discussion of the United Nations 68th Session of the Commission on the Status Women at New York City, March 11, 2024.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh. And to our Muslim brothers and sisters, Ramadan Mubarakh.

Mr. Chair,

We are very proud of your leadership of this year’s CSW. We are reminded of the Philippines’ chairship in 1995 when the CSW played a crucial role as the preparatory committee for the negotiations on the draft Beijing Platform for Action.

This landmark document listed “Women and Poverty” as the first in its twelve areas of concern, and with its upcoming 30th anniversary next year, it is an opportune time to reflect on our progress toward gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Upholding our commitment to gender-responsive governance and recognizing the intersectionality of issues they face in society, the Philippines has made significant strides in promoting the rights of women and girls from different sectors.

In 2009, we enacted the Magna Carta of Women, a comprehensive anti-discrimination and gender-equality law. This law is further operationalized and translated into meaningful and targeted outcomes through the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Plan 2019 to 2025, the government’s guide in formulating Gender and Development plans and budgets.

As a testament to our commitment to financing with a gender perspective, government agencies have been allocating at least five percent of their budget to support programs and activities on GEWE since 1995. In 2022, we spent an estimated 18.9 billion USD on gender programs.

At the same time, we continue to strengthen our institutions and social protection programs to address women’s poverty. Our Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a conditional cash transfer program with a budget that has exponentially increased from 5.37 million USD  in 2008 to 1.9 billion USD this 2024, has benefitted 4.4 million Filipino households. Cash grants are given directly to mothers of eligible households, increasing their ability to invest in the well-being of their families, thereby improving the survival, health, and access to education of their children.

With women-led micro, small, and medium enterprises being the driving force of the Philippine economy, our government provides support to women entrepreneurs by strengthening their business skills through projects like the Kapatid Mentor Me program, which offers them coaching and mentoring, and government loans that improve their access to financing.

Aware of the vulnerabilities of women and girls during disasters, we are also working hard to incorporate gender-responsive measures in our climate action programs, including in climate finance, such as our People’s Survival Fund.

Recognizing the crucial role of women in the peacebuilding and development process of our Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao in the Southern part of the Philippines—home to Bangsamoro tribes, indigenous peoples, and settler communities—we established the Bangsamoro Women Commission, the body responsible for mainstreaming gender into the implementation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, thereby ensuring the meaningful participation of women in decision-making at all levels of governance.

We continually celebrate women leaders in the country’s governance. The Philippines has the distinction of having had two female presidents while our present Cabinet has five female Secretaries, including yours truly.

As Budget Secretary—the second woman to hold this position—I am proud to say that our initiatives to address the poverty experienced by women and girls in the Philippines are intersectoral and all-encompassing, from social protection to financial inclusion. Through collaborative efforts and targeted interventions, we are determined to break the chains of poverty and empower them at all levels.

There is always more to be done to achieve a genuinely inclusive and gender-fair Philippines—and world. But this should only motivate us to continue to rise above the limitations we have experienced in the past and—in the true spirit of equality—make our voices even louder to achieve a future of empowered women and girls in a gender-equal world.

Thank you and Mabuhay!

Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.