Zonta Club of Cebu II hosted “Girls Not Brides” webinar on June 05, 2021, supporting Senate Bill No. 1373 or the “Girls Not Brides Act” authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros.
In Zontian Atty. Mae Elaine Bathan’s introductory speech, she emphasized that the freedom of choice is among the rights of every Filipino, and does not exempt girls. Atty. Bathan further highlighted some of the public’s sentiments on the Girls not Brides Bill showing the lack of awareness on this subject.
“Child Marriage is a form of abuse. Child Marriage is criminal and should never have a place in our society,” Sen. Hontiveros strongly said in the forum.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, Resource Speaker & Author of Girls Not Brides Act
UNICEF stated that ten million child marriages may occur before the end of the decade. The Philippines was ranked 12th in the world with the prevalence of child marriage in the same organization.
Sen. Hontiveros said Child Early and Forced Marriages is a tragic reality to which girls are subjected largely due to economic circumstances, cultural expectations, and outdated beliefs and norms.
“There are girls who are forced to enter child marriages because of the baseless conception that the measure of a woman, of a girl, is determined only by being a wife, a mother, a homemaker,” Sen. Hontiveros states.
Adding that Filipino society would not thrive if people would not accept respecting the life and dignity of women and children.
She concluded her speech with an appeal to all advocates with “Let us help each other help our children. Let us ensure that our girls simply be children, children who can still dream, hope, and enjoy the bright future that awaits them”.
Zonta Club of Cebu II President Cristina “Petite” Garcia
As part of the vision of Zonta Club of Cebu II to educate every citizen of the importance of this bill, President Cristina “Petite” Garcia pledged to remain supportive of the campaign to end child marriages, and emphasized that “social change cannot succeed without community engagement”.
Although the Philippines is a signatory to international laws concerning child brides, the legislation that the country has, lacks in protecting these girls. The Girls Not Brides Act, if passed into a law, will be able to provide the necessary protection. Sen. Hontiveros remains hopeful that the bill will be passed in the 18th Congress.
Dr. Rhodora Masilang Bucoy, Former Associate Professor, UP Cebu and Past Chairperson Philippine Commission on Women (2016-2020), Recognized GAD Consultant
IBP Cebu City Chapter Immediate Past President Atty. Regal Oliva
In attendance were members of Zonta Clubs of Cebu I, Iloilo, NCR, Davao, Gensan, Bacolod, and CDO. Other prominent guests include members of Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu City Chapter, LGUs represented by Mandaue City Councilor Hon. Cynthia Cinco-Remedio and Cebu City Councilor Hon. Nina Mabatid, police officers, and representatives of Mandaue Local Office of Muslim Affairs.
Pledge of Support delivered by Mandaue City Councilor Hon. Cynthia Cinco-Remedio
Pledge of Support delivered by Cebu City Councilor Hon. Nina Mabatid
Zonta Club of Cebu II is a member club of Zonta International, leading advocacy efforts to improve the lives of women by promoting strategies to eradicate violence against women and children. (Merry Melle Aguilar and Nicole Ashlyn Torrepalma, St. Theresa’s College of Cebu – Media Communication students)