PUDTOL, Apayao – Hundreds of women gathered together in the morning of March 27 to join the unity walk and tree planting activities before reconvening at the EKB Memorial Gymnasium at Pudtol to jumpstart the 2019 Provincial Women’s Month Celebration.
Department of Tourism Regional Director, Jovita A. Gonongan and Congresswoman Eleanor “Leah” C. Bulut-Begtang exemplifying characters of accomplished women graced the event in which this year’s celebration highlights the accomplishments of the women’s sector in nation-building, women’s involvement in governance and their combat against the impending issues not only in the provincial level but also in the national landscape.
Keynote Speaker DoT Regional Director Jovita Gongongan underscored the roles of women and other marginalized sectors of the society in nation building. She linked the goals of tourism to attain sustainable development, social responsibility and inclusive growth towards women empowerment.
“In tourism, we see a wide range of income generation for both men and women. Tourism jobs are often flexible and can be carried out on various locations such as the workplace, community and households.” Gonongan said.
Gonongan also pointed that the province has a solid potential in farm tourism as it creates a wide range of opportunities for women especially in the equitable distribution of income and wider beneficiaries. “Farm tourism reaches broad range of people especially in rural areas. You have festivals celebrating agriculture whilst promoting tourism like Pinya Festival. You already positioned your province as the next farm tourism destination in the country,” she added.
With the usual theme, “we make change work for women,” the Regional Director who hailed from Kalinga encouraged the women to break the stigma and not think of themselves as the weaker gender. She also added that in order for life to thrive, the society must realize the equally important factors men and women plays in terms of socio-cultural, economic and political development of the province.
“Educate yourselves and do not be constricted by the barriers of your walls nor should you listen to limiting words that others may call on you. You are imperative to the growth and success of your province, our region and ultimately our nation. We must also continue to address the issues and secure a sustainable environment for women to fully comprehend and embraced the wraths of the 21st century,” Gonongan stressed.
Cong. Leah in her message, highlighted the high incidence of rape and sexual harassment, teenage pregnancy, trafficking and other violence against women crimes in the province. She stressed that it could be everyone’s business to take more preventive measures to counter violence against women especially rape. She also expressed her strong passion to lessen rape and teenage pregnancy incidence in the province. “I am challenging the women leaders and organizations of Apayao to take necessary efforts to lessen rape cases in the province or even make it zero percent if possible.” Cong. Leah said.
The upcoming Governor come July also reiterated her full support to women’s programs even with limited resources. She promised that during her term as the governor of the province, there will be more vigorous partnership to women’s organizations especially in her drive to combat violence against women crimes as well as to prioritize women’s health and household disaster preparedness.
After the program, the PSWDO conducted orientations on women related laws like Anti-Rape Law and Anti-VAWC Law with speakers from the Philippine National Police. There were also contested activities participated by the women delegation of each municipality.
By JESS CHRISTLEY MARQUEZ