PASAY CITY, Manila – The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children (IACVAWC) members and other partners, has organized a one-day Youth Forum on November 25 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.
The forum focuses on building awareness of target participants about the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW and reinforcing the concepts of positive masculinity for boys and empowerment for girls through relevant, relatable, and engaging plenary and breakout discussions.
The National Demographic and Health Survey reports that the prevalence/frequency of VAW is higher for girls aged 15-19 years old.
PCW Chairperson Dr. Rhodora M. Bucoy tells that throughout the world, VAWC is largely unreported due to impunity, silence, stigma, and shame. Therefore, there is a need to build awareness and advocacy on our young girls who experience this high form of violence.
“We are brought here for a common vision: to promote the observance of VAW. Today, we have achieved milestone development in addressing issues that still persist. The promise of the sustainable development goals to leave no one behind cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls,” says Dr. Bucoy.
On the other hand, Executive Director of the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) Mary Mitzi Cajayon-Uy, tells that they are tasked to protect the rights of the children and in ending violence against them.
“Young people are considered as the most valuable resource as they create a better society that is free from violence. In our work in CWC, we have been keen on promoting the participation rights of children. We have seen how children, as they become youth, see different challenges and limitation to fully maximize their participation in nation-building,” says Uy.
The plenary sessions discussed young people’s understanding and experiences of VAWC to identify its possible effects on a person’s mental health, and how the youth can develop digital healthy habits, prevent cyberbullying, and keep themselves safe online.
Dr. Hyacinth C. Manood, Medical Specialist III of Women and Children Protection Unit of the National Center for Mental Health talks about #GenerationChange: Gen Z against VAWC, which tackles on how the youth can handle traumatic or violent situations and become more conscious of promoting the anti-VAWC advocacy among their peers and communities.
“Victims of violence tend to isolate themselves from family and friends, there are times they act out, cut classes, drink alcohol to express their emotions. What we should do is to be informed, fight sexism, identify primary support system from family, friends, teachers, community, and lastly get help,” says Dr. Manood.
Dr. Joey Reuben Q. Alagaran II, Regional Head of the Philippine Information Agency Mimaropa Region set forth examples of different issues we encounter on the digital media through the agency’s digital literacy campaign on his talk about #cyberREADI: Developing digital responsibility.
“Through this campaign, we will share knowledge and best practices on trends and developments in Media and Information Literacy (MIL) programmes, particularly on cyber wellness for the youth; to develop a public awareness strategy and materials to promote cyber wellness among the youth; and to engage the ASEAN-member states in promoting cyber wellness through this awareness campaign,” says Dr. Alagaran.
Dr. Alagaran also tells the youth to eagerly think before posting anything on social media platforms.
“There are a lot of cases of cyberbullying and it’s not just girls who are violated but also boys because of the influence of mass media technology. What we should do is to be a responsible internet user, we should be ethical and safe in using technology because you are what you post. You are the reflection of what you post online, so be responsible,” ends Dr. Alagaran.
The breakout sessions are divided into two groups: the Male and Female perspective groups. The male perspective session is designed to teach young boys how to transform negative stereotypes and toxic behaviors into positive values that they can embody in their personal relationships. However, the female perspective session aims to empower young girls by teaching them how to fight for their rights, identify red flags in relationships and know what to do in case of abuse.
The forum serves as the official kick-off event of the 18-Day Campaign. (GATS/PIAMIMAROPA)