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Solon seeks more laws on women's rights, gender equality

Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman stressed the need to up the ante on passing more laws that would advance women's rights and gender equality.

“We must ensure that we will be able to pass laws that will at least mitigate, if not eliminate, discrimination in all its forms. We need to develop ideas and continue the momentum for the future while strengthening partnerships with diverse groups of stakeholders which is what the committee is doing now,” Roman, a transgender woman, said in a privilege Monday in celebration of the International Women's Month.

She said the House women and gender equality panel that she heads will work with sectors "to find innovative solutions to help women and gender diverse people unleash their potential  and become leaders, entrepreneurs and agents of change for a more resilient and inclusive development agenda for all our people."

Roman said the fight for women’s rights has become a bigger battle for gender justice amid lingering discrimination.

“It is noteworthy that the fight for women's rights has evolved into a more expansive fight for gender justice in that it now behooves that everyone, regardless of age, civil status, socio­ economic class, ethnicity, SOGIESC, religious beliefs, etc., must respect and recognize the fundamental right of all human beings to live and to co-exist with others. This recognition should not only remain in theory but must be put into practice,” she said.

“We must walk the talk,”  she added.

SOGIESC means sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.

Roman lamented that there are still many types and cases of harassment, prejudice, and inequalities towards women, and that even with the more pronounced programs and projects aimed at empowering women and gender non-conforming people, the daunting task of delivering on the promises of legislation geared towards this end remains.

“Today, and every day, we are very happy to honor the tremendous achievements of women, gender-diverse people and those who identify as women because we have made great progress in the direction of gender equality. However, we still need to move forward to empower women in all areas and in all facets of human life,” Roman said.

“If we say that we respect the fundamental rights of others, as lawmakers, we should promulgate laws to guarantee these rights. We should also not be selective in the granting of these rights with the fallacious belief that recognizing the rights of others will diminish our own rights,” she added.

Roman said that Constitutional rights cannot be invoked to infringe on the rights of others or justify discrimination.

She then quoted American lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who had said “ it's sickening and tiring that the only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.”

“I am a woman of faith myself and I cannot  fathom how discriminating against other people by depriving them of their basic right to work, study, receive services from the government and access public that can make anyone holier?” Roman stressed.

“Ang mabuhay ng may kasiguruhan sa ating mga karapatan bilang babae ay isa sa mga pundasyon ng isang matatag na lipunan. Alam natin nakapag ang mga kababaihan at other minorities ay di nakakasabay sa iba, mahihirapan tayong  makamtan ang pagkakapantay-pantay sa lipunan. Because the fight for gender equality has to be intersectional, inclusive and solidarious,” she also said.

(Paving the way with a society that upholds women's rights should be the foundation of our nation. If we leave women and minorities behind, we won’t reach equality.)—LDF, GMA Integrated News