Forging ahead with its commitment to ensure safe spaces in the organization, the Department of Science and Technology VIII joined the observance of this year’s 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW).

Speaking as the Chairperson of the Gender Focal Point System (GFPS), Engr. Ernesto M. Granada emphasized in his opening remarks during the virtual saGAD Talakayan on What Victims Can Do Should They Experience Sexual Harassment in Public and Cyber Spaces that DOST8’s campaign “carries the theme #SanaAllSafeSpaces.”

“Violence against women (VAW) violates human rights and continues to be one of the country’s perennial social problems. It manifests and perpetuates discrimination and gender inequality. It violates the fundamental right of women to live a life free from violence as upheld in international commitments and their local translation,” said RD Granada, adding that “there is therefore, a need to intensify awareness raising on the core provisions of the law, the penalties, and mechanisms in place as the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic which breeds various forms of VAW, especially online with many spending their time in the digital realm”.

RD Granada mentioned the initiatives that shall be undertaken by DOST8, through the GFPS and GAD Project, with respect to the observance of the 18-day Campaign to End VAW.

“What we are doing today is the saGAD Talakayan on What Victims Can Do Should They Experience Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Public and Cyber Spaces. This virtual talakayan will shed light on the legal recourses afforded to victims of sexual harassment,” said RD Granada. He added that, “last year, an orientation of the Safe Spaces Act was conducted; this year, the organization will explore further how the Safe Spaces Act of 2019 together with the Anti Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, VAWC Act of 2004 and other related laws can protect sexual harassment victims. This is to equip personnel who are also mothers, fathers, wives and husbands, and siblings of the recourses available should they or their loved ones or co-workers experience sexual harassment in any spaces.”

Underscoring the office’s commitment to taking an even more aggressive stance against every form of abuse and discrimination against women, RD Granada revealed that another initiative in line with the 18-day Campaign to End VAW is the conduct of Virtual Lecture on the Use of Non-Sexist Language.

“CSC Memorandum Circular No. 12, S. 2005, issued on March 30, 2005, encourages government officials and employees to use non-sexist language in all its official documents, issuances and communications. Moreover, Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework (GMEF) listed the training on the use of gender-fair language as one indicator of the organization’s commitment to gender mainstreaming. Hence, this virtual lecture. “ said RD Granada.

He added that, “this is relevant in the observance of the 18-day campaign because sexist language may imply gender-based violence. If language perpetuates existing gender stereotypes and concepts of men and women in our communities, this language is not taking us forward to equality. The end-goal of this lecture is to craft policy providing for guidelines on the use of non-sexist language in all DOST VIII official documents, communications, and issuances.”

RD Granada also encouraged the regional office personnel to write their commitments in the #SanaAllSafeSpaces pledge board installed at the ground floor of the DOST Regional Office building.

“Under the hashtag #SanaAllSpacesSafe, it serves as a platform for all genders to expound on their imagery of and hopes for a VAW-free community. We are encouraging our personnel in the region to write your commitments in the pledge board, take photos and send it to our GAD unit for posting in our online platforms. These are all for the purpose of strengthening our contribution in the national campaign to end VAW, “ RD Granada said. (By Aivan Lloyd Calonia, DOST VIII)