POPCOM-Region II hailed women across the country who remained resilient despite and inspite the threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as it already reached its one year of posturing great impacts in the lives of many Filipinos.

As the country celebrates 2021 Women’s Month this March with the theme Juana Laban sa Pandemya: Kaya!, POPCOM-Region II supports and promotes initiatives that aim to promote gender equality and women empowerment.

Women and family planning during the COVID-19

This year, the region is geared towards intensifying its efforts in ensuring that family planning (FP) information and services are within the reach of women with unmet need for modern FP methods inspite of the pandemic.

“During the community lockdown and with the existing health protocols, we enjoined our trained FP health services providers to make FP services accessible and available especially that couples are contained in their respective homes. FP is now considered a basic necessity,” POPCOM-Region II Director Herita O. Macarubbo said.

POPCOM-Region II also acknowledges the dedication of its local partners, especially the Barangay Population Workers and Volunteers (BPWs/Vs) who braved the pandemic to ensure that women and girls are provided with accurate information and appropriate services on FP. “We commend our BPWs/Vs, who are mostly women, for conducting house-to-house visits to women of reproductive ages with unmet need for MFP,” RD Macarubbo added.

Through the efforts of the Provincial/Municipal/City Population Officers (P/M/CPOs), with the assistance of designated BPWs/Vs and in coordination with other partners at the local level, the region was able to reach 29,731 couples and individuals in 2020 thru various demand generation activities. The total number of couples/individuals with unmet need for modern family planning methods from 2015-2020 is 7,417 while the number of couples/individuals successfully mentored and referred were 4,466 in the previous year.

Safeguarding teen moms’ future

POPCOM has a crucial role in the crafting of the Social Protection Program for Teenaged Mothers and their Children (SPPTMC) which aims to safeguard the well-being of young mothers and their children nationwide in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other key partners and stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the Women and Children Protection Desks–Crime Information Reporting and Analysis System of the Philippine National Police (PNP) – Region 2 reported decreasing cases of violence against women in the region for the past three (3) years from 510 reported cases in 2018, 440 in 2019, down to 363 in 2020.

This can be associated with the intensified implementation of all mechanisms to eliminate all forms of violence through various policies and advocacy campaigns on women’s rights and to encourage women and girls to report cases of abuse.

In support of this campaign, POPCOM-Region II launched the Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning (RPFP)/COVID-19 Helpline last year to provide accurate, relevant, and essential information about its core programs on gender-based violence and other sexual health concerns, to name a few.

There were 18 clients provided with basic information on FP and were successfully referred to trained healthcare service providers for FP service provision.

Men as advocates against gender-based violence (GBV)

As men remain the majority of perpetrators of domestic violence, women are still vulnerable despite the continued effort to empower them. Local government unit (LGU) with trained population officers, workers and partners are institutionalizing the KATROPA (Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya), a strategy which aims to strengthen male involvement in family planning and to tap men as advocates of RPFP.

For the past years, POPCOM-Region II trained males from different sectors and organized groups like the PNP, Philippine Army, LGU employees, Regional Population Executive Board (RPEB), faith-based organizations (FBOs) and tricycle drivers on KATROPA.

A woman leading by example

During the celebration of the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, the City Government of Tuguegarao gave recognition to RD Macarubbo as one of the Lady Managers/Heads of Office for fulfilling extraordinary roles in society and nation-building.

RD Macarubbo who rose from the ranks in 1980 and serving the government for 40 years now, started leading the workforce of POPCOM-Region II in 2017.

POPCOM-Region II continues to spearhead other sustainable and inclusive actions towards gender equality and women empowerment because the agency recognizes that women “thrive, innovate, and are able to give hope to others despite the present circumstances and it sees more #WonderJuanas conquering inequities and creating opportunities across all aspects of life.”

With RD Macarubbo’s leadership, POPCOM-Region II will soar higher in empowering more Filipino families and communities, especially women in Region 2.