International summit advances rights, representation of Filipinas

Summit luminaries, which included Ambassador Harald Fries of Sweden (seated, second from left), Vice President Ma. Leonor G. Robredo and Ambassador Bita Rasoulian of Austria (seated, fourth and fifth from left, respectively).

MARKING the annual Women’s Month celebration and kicking off a series of events, SPARK! and the Office of the Vice President, in partnership with the embassies of Austria and Sweden, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the University of the Philippines-Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (UPCWGS) brought together powerful women and their allies in the fight for empowerment and gender equality on March 8 at the SM Aura-Samsung Hall.

Participants raised the level of discourse on women’s rights in this year’s International Women’s Day Summit 2019, carrying the theme: “Advancing the Rights and Representation of Filipino Women.”

The summit highlighted key issues with three panel discussions: “Toward a World Without Violence: Ending Violence Against Women [VAW],” “Breaking Barriers: Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment” and “Magnifying Women’s Voices and Participation: Creating an Equal World.”

A call to challenge barriers hindering their collective progress, the confab provided a platform to collectively reflect on remarkable achievements made toward women empowerment and gender equality despite persistent discrimination in communities and workplaces. It also offered an opportunity to discuss innovative solutions to enhance men’s meaningful engagements to achieve gender equality.

Ambassador Harald Fries of Sweden opened the summit, and welcomed Vice President Ma. Leonor G. Robredo afterward for her keynote speech on behalf of all partners.  Ambassador Bita Rasoulian of Austria joined the third panel with Sen. Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel as they focused on women empowerment in male-dominated fields. UNFPA Country Representative Iori Kato rounded up the discussions with his closing remarks.

Other notable panelists included Empower’s Kat Alano for the discussion on VAW, as well as Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles of the UPCWGS and Filipina designer Zarah Juan for the discussion on women’s economic empowerment. Embassy of Sweden