Floods, COVID-19 and GAD

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After experiencing five rainy Fridays and weekends, the first two of which caused flooding in Silay City and neighboring LGUs in District 3, I am glad January is over and I’m looking forward to sunnier February. I am hoping we can celebrate the Love Month with less fear in the hearts of women and their families, especially small children who have been traumatized by the floods.

We thank the compassionate and generous Negrenses, as well as those from other provinces, who gave various assistances to the flood victims.

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It has been almost a year since we started living with COVID-19 in our midst. We got to know the virus these past months, and learned how observing the minimum health standards can help us from being infected. We gave a sigh of relief with the information that vaccines were developed, and will be made available for Filipinos soon.

Aside from the budget from the general fund of the province, P10 million for our Gender and Development Fund has also been allocated for COVID vaccines for Negrenses.  Our initial joy, however, was dashed because of the discovery of another variant of the coronavirus, which is reportedly more transmissible. Now, we are advised to be more cautious, and to strictly observe the wearing of face masks, face shields, frequent hand washing, and social/physical distancing.

Basic health protocols, which, unfortunately, are still not followed by some people. Maybe they think they are invincible, or perhaps, immune to the virus?

I learned from one city in north Negros that they had several fetal deaths in 2020, which health professionals attributed to, among others, the lack of pre-natal care or check-ups among the pregnant women who fear of contracting the virus if they go to health centers or hospitals. I also learned that teenage pregnancy rate of the same LGU increased, with the mothers, getting younger and younger.

Although I was expecting that pregnancy among married women of reproductive age will increase, because of the lockdown and their limited access to family planning services/commodities, I thought our teen pregnancy statistics would decrease since minors have not been allowed to go out and they would not be able to meet up with their boyfriends/girlfriends. Apparently, I was wrong.

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During our recent Provincial GAD Stakeholders Conference-Workshop, project implementers discussed the use of technology to reach more women and sectors. Since face to face events are limited to half venue capacity, live streaming of events will be done to increase public awareness about the advocacy for women’s rights, elimination of violence against women and children, promotion of responsible parenthood and family planning, and livelihood and entrepreneurial development, among others.

Also discussed was the need to develop specific webinar modules for different education and information components of the projects. Also agreed were the reminders about minimum health standards that shall be included during opening ceremonies of GAD programs.

A day after the conference, we were greeted by the news about a husband in Cauayan town who killed his wife during an argument. Such tragic incidents pushed us to further intensify our campaign for violence-free homes and communities as well as capacity-building for barangay VAW desk officers as an urgent concern. – NWI