Posted on 2007

26th Anniversary of the CEDAW
Senate of the Philippines

To our distinguished honorees, guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen,a pleasant afternoon to all of you.

I am proudthat the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women through its Chairperson Myrna Yao thought of holding this anniversary celebration here in the Senate.    I am also happy to note that this also coincides with the launching of the book, Shaping the Global Agenda, Filipino Women in the UN. Certainly, this is symbolic of the Senate’s important role in upholding the principles of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women through the landmark measures it has passed on women’s rights.

Ladies and gentlemen, CEDAW is a treaty that is significant to my career as a legislator. As you know, as chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations in the 12th Congress, I sponsored the passage of the Optional Protocol to the CEDAW. As a result, we are now one of the countries that have pushed CEDAW to a higher level of protecting women. Indeed, the Protocol tells us that protecting women knows no boundaries.  Though I sponsored it, I cannot claim credit for it alone.   I must say that I was able to steer its passage with the help of many women’s rights advocates who tirelessly worked with me, in particular,  Professor Oyie de Dios who is one of our honorees today.

Meeting you and being in the same room with you this afternoonmakes me all the more inspired to focus on women’s advancement as part of my legislative agenda. You are the few good Filipino women whose careers shone brightly in the UN. Your untiring dedication to your craft and unquestionable competence has made its mark in the UN. Senators Helena Benitez, Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Ambassador Manalo, Dr. Patricia Licuanan, Professor Aurora de Dios, Ms. Ging Deles and the late Justice Irene Cortez-- you have all made this country proud.

The book, Shaping the Global Agenda will surely give this generation and the next, valuable lessons in pushing the women’s agenda not only in the UN but in our country, our communities and in our personal lives.

You might be interested to know that I am no stranger to strong and independent women.   It was from my mother, who braved the odds of World War II to survive, that I learned the value of Sipag at Tiyaga. She taught me to dream big and work hard. Equally important, she taught me that a woman has an innate ability to survive and can be anything she wants to be. To this day, she cannot be stopped. Now in her 80s, she still tends a sari-sari store in Las Pinas. Just like our honorees today, my mother is a trailblazer.

To our good women, I thank you for inspiring us and sharing your insights in championing the women’s agenda. I hope that the young men and women in this room will find reading the book not an end in itself but the beginning of a lifelong journey of making a difference in the lives of women and men as well -- that at the end of the day, women’s rights are non-negotiable. 

As your friend and ally in the Senate, let me assure you that I will continue to espouse your advocacies in these august halls. Please do not hesitate to share with me your concerns. Again, congratulations to our honorees and thank you to all of you!

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