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After a brief opening program with Dr. Caranguian stressing the need for men to partner with women in order to achieve complete community development, the activity was capped with lectures from the Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women) Project 2 and the Magna Carta for Women (MCW).

Ms Susan Balanza, GREAT women project 2 focal person, discussed to RIC members the goal of enhancing the enabling environment for Women Economic Empowerment (WEE), by making women micro-entrepreneurs and workers in microenterprises.

As the project started in 2007 by the Philippine Commission for Women (PCW) and some help from Canada, the project was able to launch women into the business world by capacitating them with trainings and hands-on exercises in planning, financing and budgeting, programming, gender and executive aspects of microenterprising.

By the end of the GREAT women project 1 in 2013, the project executives recommended that it needs a follow-up project to build capacities of women as entrepreneurs that would focus on “business strengthening” – to make them more competitive by considering the value chain approach and for NGAs to hone their expertise in directly helping LGUs to provide services to WMEs and build partnerships with the  private sector.

“A woman is economically empowered when she has both the ability to succeed and advance economically and the power to make and act on economic decisions.” Balanza said in her discussion.

Meanwhile, the Magna Carta for Women discussed by Attorney Emily Balungay, legal officer of the Civil Service Commission, pinpointed the rights of women that are protected by R.A 9710 or also known as the Magna Carta for Women signed on August 14, 2009.

The Magna Carta of Women is a comprehensive women's human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino women, especially those in the marginalized sectors.

“Marginalized” refers to the basic, disadvantaged, or vulnerable persons or groups who are mostly living in poverty and have little or no access to land and other resources, basic social and economic services such as health care, education, water and sanitation, employment and livelihood opportunities, housing, social security, physical infrastructure, and the justice system. This includes small farmers and rural workers, fisher folks, urban poor, workers in the formal economy,  workers in the informal economy, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, moro, children, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and solo parents.

In the Republic Act, there were nine rights that are protected by the law: 1) protection from all forms of violence, including those committed by the State; 2) Protection and security in times of emergency, disaster, calamities, armed conflict and militarization; 3) Participation and representation; 4) Equal treatment before the law; 5) Equal access and elimination of discrimination against women in education, scholarships and training; 6) Equal participation in sports; 7) Non-discriminatory and non-derogatory portrayal of women in media and film; 8) Comprehensive health services and health information and education; 9) Equal rights in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.

The discussion also took on matters relating to the maternal leave benefits of women in government agencies where women are entitled to special leave benefits; and,  where any female public sector employee regardless of age and civil status shall be entitled to special leave of a maximum of two (2) months with full pay based on her gross monthly compensation , provided she has rendered at least six (6) months aggregate service  in any or various government agencies for the last twelve (12) months prior to undergoing  surgery for gynecological disorders. // Danica Tomin