Groups call for full implementation of the RPRH law during its 10th anniversary photo exhibit

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

International humanitarian and development organization Oxfam Pilipinas and women’s rights organizations launched a photo exhibition to mark the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law or Republic Act 10354 in Quezon City on Friday.

The photo exhibition, "RPRH Law: Isang Dekada Na,” which opened to the public from December 9 to 12 at Eastwood Mall, showcased the images captured by women’s rights organizations and the media.  

It depicted the journey before the passage of the law, its milestones, and the impacts of the landmark legislation on women, men, youth, people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE), families, and communities ten years after the passage of the law.  

“This event celebrates our collective efforts to pass this landmark legislation. We recognize the gains, but we want to highlight that there’s more to be done to fully realize sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for everyone, especially those with limited access to SRHR services, commodities and information,” Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo said.  

Geronimo added that the photo exhibit hopes to share the aspirations by women’s rights organizations of responding to the gaps and challenges in fully implementing the RPRH Law.

“Clearly, there is still much work to be done and many more dialogue spaces to create as we continue our commitment to promote SRHR in the Philippines,” she added.

 She said among the gaps in the implementation of the law is the complete rollout of the comprehensive sexual education (CSE), the need to have more adolescent-friendly health facilities, and the provision of age and development-appropriate reproductive health education for adolescents in formal and non-formal educational settings.  

The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) echoed these implementation gaps, which they have recently presented as the civil society organizations’ legislative agenda to lawmakers.

“Women and girls are still disproportionately affected by issues rooted in systematic problems that limit them from fully exercising their SRHR, as well as the lack of measures that will protect them from all forms of violence,” WGNRR Asia Projects Coordinator Christelyn Sibugon said. 

A staff from the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines looks at the images depicting the journey of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law or Republic Act 10354 during a photo exhibit organized to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its passage. (Photo by: Erielle Esturas/Oxfam Pilipinas)

Meantime, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) committed to continuously advocate for the rights of women and girls to sexual and reproductive health in their policy issuances and plans.

In her message during the photo exhibit launch, PCW Executive Director Kristine Rosary Yuzon-Chavez vowed for the formulation and adoption of new laws that promote women’s health and empowerment through the Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda. 

“Ensuring women’s and girls’ reproductive health must be our utmost priority as this means improved health and well-being for our children, our families, and our communities as a whole,” Chavez said. 

The photo exhibit launch was attended by peer educators from Bicol, Samar, and Zamboanga del Sur, who were mobilized by women’s rights organizations such as Pambansang Koalisyon ng mga Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), Mayon Integrated Development Alternatives and Services (MIDAS), and the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP). 

Oxfam Pilipinas and its eleven partner organizations are currently implementing in its fifth year the Sexual Health and Empowerment Project (SHE) supported by Global Affairs Canada, which aims to empower women and girls to secure their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in six disadvantaged and conflict-affected regions of the Philippines.

To improve SRHR knowledge and awareness among communities and to prevent gender-based violence (GBV), particularly among women and girls, the SHE Project trains peer educators as a strategic approach to provide their peers with the correct information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, including on services that they are entitled to access in government health facilities.

Even before COVID-19, the state of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of women and girls was already a grave public health challenge in the Philippines. Approximately 196,000 girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 19 get pregnant each year, which led the Commission on Population and Development to declare a “national social emergency” in 2019.

According to Oxfam’s 2020 COVID-19 Rapid Gender Assessment, vulnerable individuals and groups were disproportionally affected by the challenges in accessing SRHR services during the quarantines imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic.  

The assessment found that 70 percent of displaced women respondents in Region IV-A and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) cited difficulty accessing contraceptives. Almost 50 percent of women interviewed in all regions, except National Capital Region (NCR), expressed difficulties accessing pre-natal and birthing services. Meanwhile, 76 percent of men from Samar and BARMM noted problematic access to contraceptive supplies while 48 percent said accessing health services related to sexually transmitted infections, human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) were challenging. A significant 88 percent of LGBTQI respondents in Bicol, Samar, NCR, and Region IV-A said they experienced difficulties accessing family planning services, STI, and HIV/AIDS prevention services. 

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April Abello-Bulanadi | Policy Advocacy and Communications Manager, Oxfam Pilipinas