Amnesty International has welcomed a decision by the Philippine government to implement a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution, which aims to ensure the protection of women's rights during armed conflict and post-conflict situations.
The Philippine government launched the National Action Plan (NAP) on Women Peace and Security in Quezon City, on Friday, 26 March.
"This is a step in the right direction. Forming this National Action Plan not only provides a framework for the protection of women in armed conflict and post conflict situations, but could also empower women as peace advocates and human rights defenders," said Donna Guest, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Asia and the Pacific.
UN Security Council resolution 1325 was adopted in October 2000. Its main aim was to urge member states to increase women's involvement in the prevention and resolution of conflict.
Among other things, the resolution calls on all parties to armed conflict to cater to the special needs of women and girls during resettlement and post-conflict reconstruction.
It also calls for specialized training to be provided to military, police and civilians for the protection of human rights needs of women and girls in conflict situations.
"Given the Philippines' history of intermittent armed conflicts with various insurgent groups, it is high time for the government to look at the special needs of women and girls, particularly in the context of displacement and resettlement, when women face a high risk of being targeted," said Donna Guest.
"Women give birth in overcrowded camps for displaced persons; mothers are left to fend for their children on their own in camps or villages while their husbands try to make a living elsewhere; young girls are sent to neighbouring towns as domestic workers to help their family survive – these and other conflict-related women's human rights issues must be addressed.
"The new plan is a promising first step. However the real test will be how it is implemented on the ground, which we will be monitoring."
The Philippines is the first Asian country to produce a National Action Plan (NAP) implementing the resolution.
According to media reports, the Philippine NAP has four goals:
Protection and Prevention: To ensure the protection and prevention of violations of women's human rights in armed conflict and post-conflict situations;
Empowerment and Participation: To empower women and ensure their active and meaningful participation in areas of peace building, peacekeeping, conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction;
Promotion and Mainstreaming: To promote and mainstream gender perspectives in all aspects of conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and peace building;
Capacity Development and Monitoring and Reporting: To institutionalize a monitoring and reporting system to monitor, evaluate and report in order to enhance accountability for the successful implementation of the NAP and achievement of its goals.