Officials and coordinators of the Gender Office, Office of Anti-Sexual Harassment, Office of Student Affairs and other UP offices delivering student services as well as the chairs of the university student councils gathered on April 29 and 30 in UP Diliman to draft recommendations for strengthening gender sensitivity and responsiveness among UP students and student organizations.
Organized by the newly constituted Technical Working Group (TWG) on Gender Sensitivity and Equality, the workshop is the first phase of a gender mainstreaming program that will bring training-workshops to all student organizations in all UP campuses.
In her keynote message read by UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS) director Nathalie Verceles-Africa, Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista acknowledged the great strides made by UP in recent years with the adoption of the UP Gender Guidelines in 2015 and the UP Anti-Sexual Harassment Code in 2017.
She said that gender-based problems have “deep social and cultural roots,” citing how domestic violence remains socially acceptable in many parts of the world and how pervasive discriminatory attitudes towards working mothers are in the Philippines. She also mentioned the weak implementation of the Anti-Bullying Act of 2013 which should protect students in elementary and secondary schools against gender-based bullying and harassment.
According to Baustista, “gender discrimination in words and in deed as well as different forms of gender bullying seemed to figure significantly in our culture. Ironically, our culture remains macho despite having strong women when compared to our Asian neighbors. Of course it does not help that our some of our national leaders further reinforce this damaged aspect of our culture by being indifferent to the unimplemented status of legislation, rules and regulations to violate the rights of individual Filipinos.”
“Let not UP be a ‘microcosm of Philippine society’ in gender bullying and discrimination,’ she added. “As the national university, our student organizations ought to be models in all areas. UP students, as true iskolars ng bayan, are called upon to exercise the critical thinking skills that are proudly claimed to be part of the so-called Tatak UP.”
At the end of the two-day workshop, the participants came up with a set of 16 recommendations, which includes ensuring the establishment of gender offices or centers in all CUs and implementing programs that address sexual and reproductive health and mental health concerns in all campuses.
The workshop will be followed by a system-wide training of trainers on gender mainstreaming as the second phase, and a gender mainstreaming caravan for student organizations as the third phase.
The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, CWGS and UP Padayon Public Service Office are the implementing bodies of all programs and policies crafted by the TWG.