T H E R H B I L L A D V O C A T E S …
Lea Salonga’s Solidarity Message for International Women’s Day – March 8, 2011
Hello, Everyone! I’m so sorry that I can’t be here with you in person, but I am with you in spirit, sending good vibes for a successful event from thousands of miles away.
On March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, many of them women died because their safety and well-being were not provided for by the people that should have been looking out for them, perishing in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. It is now 2011, nearly 100 years to the day, and 11 of our own women die everyday due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, because they aren’t being provided for by the people that should be looking out for them.
But the tides are changing. Our voices are getting louder. The so-called weaker sex is going from strength to strength, as we call out for change. We are calling out for recognition of our fundamental right to emergency health care as we carry and give birth to new life. We are calling out for the right to choose our family size, as well as the means to determine that. We are calling out to keep ourselves safe from AIDS, HIV, and STDs, as well as other diseases that would and could compromise our health and our families. We are women calling out for the passing of a bill that would guarantee that all these are finally given to us.
I join you today in solidarity and support today, International Women’s Day, as you march, shout, scream, and beat the drum for women all over the country. Reproductive health is our fundamental right. Our country needs the RH Bill now.
Thank you, and may God bless you.
I am for a Well-Informed and Empowered Filipino Youth
“Forty-four percent (44.3%) of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned, because of the lack of information on family planning services,”
states a 2003 NDHS study by the NSO. Meanwhile, the Allan Guttmacher Institute puts the “incidence of induced abortion in the country at around 500,000 annually.”
“Reproductive health education in schools becomes all the more imperative, especially when young people, in a 2002 Young Adult Fertlity and Sexuality Study 3 conducted by the UP Population Institute & Demographic Institute Research Dev’t. Foundation, showed that only one in every five youth (or 15.7%) freely discuss in their homes issues about sex,” asserted by a group of faculty members at the Ateneo De Manila University.
“Proper birth spacing reduces the risk of death for newborns and infants by fifty percent (50%),” the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes.
Thus with great clarity in my mind, I support the intent and spirit of RH bill 4244, which is now on its second reading in Congress.
While I believe there are other larger issues that carry greater weight for the bill’s immediate passage, I cannot, by conscience, allow the continued rise of induced abortions, only because almost half of these pregnancies are unplanned, due to lack of information.
Importantly, there is no better way to protect our young people from the risk of being alien to their sexuality and the threat of being careless with their sexual behavior, than by making them understand how to nurture their reproductive health. Because I firmly believe on the need to continuously empower the youth, through the power of education.
And I feel it is more immoral and irresponsible not to do something, when we could, to properly prepare the future of our country.
I admire the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network (RHAN) and all the groups supporting the RH cause, for being steadfast in its advocacy in the face of so much institutional pressure.
Finally, I salute all the women who are taking their stand today, not just for themselves, but for the welfare and well-being of all the women in the Philippines, as the world celebrates the International Women’s Day.
The RH bill is not just about choice. It’s about a chance. Chance para sa ipinanganak na mahirap. Chance na makapag-aral nang tuloy-tuloy. Mapakain nang tama ang mga bata. Magkaroon ng pangarap, at di lang mga panaginip. Chance na makaahon. At yun lang naman ang hinihingi natin. Chance sa buhay.