CHR holds dialogue with HEIs on women's rights

BAGUIO CITY, April 12 (PIA)--  Representatives from universities and colleges,and non-government organizations presented their existing policies, issues and concerns, as well as recommendations  regarding women’s rights in Community-Based Dialogue (CBD) organized by the  Commission on Human Rights- Cordillera (CHR-CAR).

 

CHR Cordillera Regional Director Romel Daguimol explained the activity was aimed to raise the level of awareness about the programs and policies on women in HEIs and to provide a venue for the collective formulation of concrete proposals for government and HEIs’ action for the promotion and protection of women’s rights.

“As the Magna Carta of Women provides for mechanism of regulation, particularly giving power to the regulatory commission to adopt policies, the CBD is being conducted to see the view points of these HEIs in crafting their policy,” Daguimol added.

The CHR is tasked as the Gender and Development Ombud to ensure the promotion and protection of women's human rights.

The top prevailing concern identified the CBD was the issue on pregnancy testing required on students in some courses. Participants from various HEIs were divided with respect to the pregnancy testing whether it’s mandatory, voluntary or is it actually needed in pursuing some courses.

The Pines City Colleges’s mandatory pregnancy test for students was recently the subject of public criticism but school officials said this is meant to protect the students and their babies from harm. They though agreed to modify the manner by which the policy was stated to be compliant with the Magna Carta of Women.

 The second issue was on sexual harassment.  Not all HEIs have existing policies or mechanism on sexual harassment.

Daguimol is saddened that the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act was passed in 1995, yet not all stakeholders have fully implemented the law.

He explained that the law safeguards against sexual abuses in the employment, education or training environment.  It gives mechanism of redress for possible sexual abuses or harassments committed in HEIs, in schools, in training and in workplaces.

“Considering the very vital role of HEIs in molding our students, it is highly recommended for us to come up with our own system to cater to sexual harassment,” Daguimol said.

Other prevailing issues presented include prostitution, cross dressing and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights.

“Our point of view or recommendation here is what are the existing policies, preventive measures to prevent prostitution in our schools, if any? It is our moral duty as leaders of the schools to recommend to our school heads to come up with policies to curb such,” Daguimol said.

Patricio Dinamling of the Commission on Higher Education representative commended the CHR for conducting such activity saying is very timely especially nowadays that women know these existing policies to protect their rights.

For the past five years, he shared that their office did not receive any official complaint   on gender issues.

Department of Science and Technology Regional Director Nancy Bantog encouraged HEIs with no existing written policies on anti sexual harassment to consider doing it now especially that universities and colleges now are going towards ISO, Institutional Sustainability Accreditation, or PASUC accreditation. 

The forum,  which was as part of the Women’s Month celebration, was attended by representatives from Ifugao State University, University of the Cordilleras, Mountain Province State Polytechnic College, Benguet State University, Saint Louis University, Apayao State College, Pines City Colleges, University of Baguio, Baguio Central University, KAISAKA and Young Women's Initiative. (JDP/MAWC – PIA CAR)

CHR-CAR Regional Director Romel Daguimol welcomes the participants during the CHR - CAR led Community-Based Dialogue on women's rights with participants from the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in CAR.

CHR Cordillera Regional Director Atty. Romel Daguimol explained the activity seeks to raise the level of awareness about the programs and policies on women in HEIs and to provide a venue for the collective formulation of concrete proposals for government and higher educational institutions action for the promotion and protection of women’s rights.

As to policy since the Magna Carta of Women provides for mechanism of regulation, particularly giving power to the regulatory commission to adopt policies, we are conducting this CBD to see the view points of this HEIs in crafting their policy, Daguimol added.

Representatives from universities and colleges, public and private, and non-government organizations presented their existing policies, issues and concerns regarding women’s rights together with their recommendations.

One of the top prevailing issues identified is the issue on pregnancy testing. Participants coming from various HEIs are divided with respect to the pregnancy testing, whether it’s mandatory, voluntary or it is actually needed in pursuing some courses.

The second issue is on sexual harassment – not all HEIs says that they have existing policies or mechanism on sexual harassment.

Daguimol said the sexual harassment law is way back 1990s, 20 years in the making and it still not all stakeholders in our society knows or fully implemented the law.

This he said is actually safeguards against abuses committed against students and also teachers in Higher and Lower Education Institutions.

This was created or crafted to give mechanism of redress for possible abuses or harassments committed in HEIs in schools, in training and in workplace.

Considering the very vital role of HEIs in molding our students I think it is highly recommended for us to come up with our own system to cater sexual harassment, Daguimol added.

Other issue prevailing issues presented include prostitution, cross dressing or LGBT rights.

Our point of view or recommendation here is what are the existing policies, preventive measures to prevent prostitutions in our schools if any and if there are none it is our moral duty as leaders of the schoold to recommend to our school heads to come up with policies to curb such, Daguimol added.

As a response Commission on Higher Education (CHED) representative Patricio Dinamling commended the CHR for conducting such activity saying for the past 5 years their office did not receive any official complaint regarding gender issues.

“This activity is very timely especially nowadays that women know these existing policies specifically the HEIs and of course the CHED or other institutions concern but sometimes we need to be reminded and this I would say is an avenue to be updated and of course to share updates, Dinamling added.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Regional Director Nancy Bantog on her part said universities now are going towards ISO, Institutional Sustainability Accreditation (ISA), PASUC accreditation maybe for those with no existing written policies on this we must consider doing it now, she said.

The forum was attended by representatives from Ifugao State University, University of the Cordilleras, Mt. Province State Polytechnic College, Benguet State University, Saint Louis University, Apayao State College, Pines City Colleges, University of Baguio, Baguio Central University, KAISAKA and Young Women's Initiative. (MAWC – PIA CAR)

By Maria Aprila W. Cruz

 

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