Gender sensitivity in Malaysia and the Philippines

The Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710) signed on August 14, 2009, which was effective since September 15, 2009 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.  Its  Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) was published and made effective on July 10, 2010 (http://pcw.gov.ph/index.php/magna-carta-of-women). It should have set the policy implementation for non-discrimination and for the police personnel in both administrative and operational duties to wear pants and low heeled shoes. 

However, the policy makers of the national police force of the Philippines continue to defy the Magna Carta of Women and its IRR. In the October 2010 6th Biennial Summit of Women in Policing in Palawan, the participants signed a manifesto for the implementation of wearing of pants as provided by the IRR. Until now, there was no implementation of this manifesto and memo from the now Deputy Chief PNP for Administration. The wearing of pants and low heeled shoes was always discussed in the women in policing biennial summit from 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. It is very sad to note that in the meetings conducted by the supposed policy makers composed of men, they refused to implement the IRR or give due consideration to the manifesto of 498 policewomen.

The funny part in the police organization is that the women civilian personnel called non-uniformed personnel are allowed to wear either skirt of pants and yet, the police women are required to wear pants except those in actual police operations. Even the teachers in the Philippines and other professions are allowed to wear pants but the police women in general are required to wear skirts.

On the contrary, in Malaysia which is a pre-dominantly Muslim country allowed policewomen even those in offices performing administrative duties to wear pants but they are required to cover their heads as dictated by their customs and traditions.  This practice clearly manifest how gender sensitive are the Malaysian government policies. Malaysian women are third in ranking  as the most empowered women in Asia and the Pacific.

According to Dr.Richard Leete, “Empowering women to have control over their own lives, including their productive and reproductive lives has been a critical ingredient in Malaysia’s remarkable development. The government of Malaysia, UNDP and UNFPA study on “The Progress of Women in Malaysia Since Independence” charts the striking  progress made by Malaysian women in, inter alia, health, education, labour force participation and political involvement.  Gender discrimination in schooling and literacy, so marked in parts of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, has been eliminated. in Malaysia”.

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