March 10, 2021 – In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD), Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones emphasized the importance of gender sensitivity education in narrowing the gender disparity.

“We must review our own curricula and materials to ensure that they are gender sensitive to give both girls and boys the value of gender focus,” Secretary Briones said in her message during the IWD virtual forum organized by International Cooperation Office (ICO) on March 8.

Briones said that gender sensitivity education should be carried out not only in the culture and arts but also in science and health to amplify the skills that the learners may need to prepare them for leadership roles.

Although recognizing the progress towards gender equality made by the Philippines and many countries, the Education chief noted that there are still wide gaps especially in areas of economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

“In the Philippines, the lockdown begun last year. We immediately look for solutions to assure that education will continue and girls mainly benefit from continuous educational opportunities which we give to our learners,” she added.

Briones also pointed out that the level of economic development does not correlate to the reduction of the gender gap.

“This call for the need for vigilance among organizations preventing the widening of the gender gap,” she said.

With the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” the webinar focused on the contributions of women in the local and global pandemic response, youth empowerment, arts and culture, and science and education.

According to a study by the World Economic Forum, the 22 countries led by women such as Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Iceland, and New Zealand, responded “systematically and significantly better” to the COVID-19 pandemic than those led by men.

“COVID-19 better shows that countries where women held leadership positions had six times fewer confirmed deaths than governments where men are in authority,” UN Women for Asia and the Pacific Regional Director Mahammad Naciri said.

Medical Specialist IV Dr. Ma. Eva Dizon, youngest female Indian Dhol player Jahan Geet Singh, and 2017 winner of Breakthrough Junior Challenge Hillary Andales also shared their experiences on thriving in a male-dominated industry.

“I encourage you all to join in fighting against the status quo. How? By fighting for equal treatment by fostering a culture that allows women to flourish and by fighting for what we deserve,” said Andales in her message.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, 65th Commission on the Status Quo Chair H.E. Ambassador Mher Margaryan, Cong. Loren Legarda, Senator Pia Cayetano, Dr. Lili Nurlaili, and Ms. Effie Bachtsevana also gave their messages of hope and empowerment during the event.