Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity
“Empowered women empower women.”- Anonymous
The International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8 to commemorate the achievements of women throughout history, and raise awareness on the continued struggles women face worldwide. This has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognized globally as a day to drumbeat women’s role in society and promote gender equality and women’s rights. Since then, IWD has been observed worldwide, with different countries and cultures celebrating it in their own unique ways.
The Philippines also observes National Women’s Month every March each year in recognition of the significant role that women play in society, and commemorating their contributions in the community. It is a month-long celebration to recognize their achievements and contributions, and raising awareness to the challenges they face in both personal and professional lives.
In line with this, the Philippine National Police (PNP) joins the nation in celebrating National Women’s Month Celebration 2023 with the theme “We are for Gender Equality and Inclusive Society” coinciding with the Traditional Monday Flag Raising Ceremony at Camp BGen Rafael T Crame, Quezon City on March 6, 2023, simultaneously conducted in all 17 Police Regional Offices in the country. The event was led by the PGen Rodolfo S Azurin Jr, Chief, PNP; PLTGen Rhodel O Sermonia, TDCA; PMGen Jonnel C Estomo, TDCO; PLTGen Michael John F Dubria, TDCS; and other high-ranking officials, stakeholders, and PNP personnel.
The kick-off ceremony was a significant event to honor and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women in law enforcement, as well as to the call for action to address challenges that women face, in effect, serving as a reminder that women have come a long way in breaking down gender barriers in law enforcement, and underscoring that there are still much work to be done to achieve gender equality.
The event started with the foyer honors rendered to the Guest of Honor and Speaker: Mandaluyong City Vice Mayor and National Vice President for Operations, Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines, Hon. Carmelita A. Abalos.
In her message, Vice Mayor Abalos emphasized the vital role of women in law enforcement, emphasizing their contributions in ensuring public safety. She also recognized the PNP’s effort to promote gender equality in the workplace, calling for a more inclusive and diverse police force.
“My adoration goes to all of you who participated and took time to embrace the concept of womanhood and equality, to learn something new about the gender gap and discrimination”, Vice Mayor Abalos said.
She also encouraged everyone to join and be part of the mission in championing the rights and welfare of women from all walks of life.
“Tayong mga kabababaihan ay hindi lang tayo basta babae, babae ka, kailangan nating panindigan at maging matapang bilang isang tao at isang indibidwal na may dangal”, said Vice Mayor Abalos.
Highlighted during the celebration was the awarding of the Medalya ng Kasayanan to senior female police officers holding key positions in PNP, namely: PBGen Jezebel D. Medina, Health Service; PCol Portia B. Manalad, WCPC; PCol Jean S. Fajardo, Spokesperson of the Chief, PNP; PCol Maria Leonora C. Camarao, PNP RSS; and NUP Cynthia S. Rosales, NUPAD.
The Medalya ng Kasanayan was also awarded to the Ten Outstanding PNP Juanas with Good Deeds who exemplified heartwarming acts beyond their call of duty, namely: PLTCol Rovelita R. Aglipay, ACG; PMaj Maria Chelly A. Casauay, HS; PCpt Rebecca M. Bilog, PRO COR; PSMS Michelle M. Revilla, PRO 4A; PSMS Mary Jane P. Fuentes, PRO 6; PSSg Cyril Joyce S. Bardinas, PRO 8; PSSg Edna T. Suyat, PRO 4B; PCpl May Ann D. Malazzab, PRO 2; PCpl Anilou S. Areja, PRO 10; and PCpl Geraldine B. Padoga.
A Plaque of Recognition was also presented to the Gender Development Advocates and Stakeholders who work together with PNP in promoting Gender and Development, namely: Ms. Marriane Kristine V. Delgado, Supervising GAD Specialist, Philippine Commission on Women (PCW); Ms. Virginia V. Peñalosa, Governor, Soroptimist International of the Americas Philippine Region (SIAPR); Ms. Eleanor B. Soriano, President, Zonta Club of Makati Paseo De Roxas Foundation Incorporated; Ms. Gina Marie G. Angangco, President, ARMSCOR Philippines; and Mrs. Mary Grace L. Azurin, Adviser of the PNP Officer’s Ladies Club.
Despite significant progress made over the years, gender inequality still exists, therefore, the PNP continuously advocates for gender equality and promotes women’s empowerment in its ranks as it is not only a woman’s issue but a human rights issue that affects everyone.
“As we commence the National Women’s Month, let us reaffirm our commitment to promote Gender Equality and Gender Stereotypes, uphold women’s rights and create a safe and inclusive environment for all members of PNP. Let us continue to work together to ensure that women have equal opportunities to excel in their chosen fields,” said PGen Azurin.
In a profession long dominated by men, policewomen are making considerable progress in rising up the ranks. As a testament to this, PNP has borne five excellent female generals – Police Constabulary/Integrated National Police, Chief Superintendent (PBGen) Maria Luisa Ferrer Dimayuga, Chief, Women Police Service, who made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s First Woman Police General in 1991; Police Chief Superintendent (PBGen) Yolanda G Tanigue, Chief, Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC), first woman general in 2006 since the creation of PNP; PDIR (PMGen) Lina C. Sarmiento, first female Director of the Police Community Relations Group and the only female general to reach the two-star rank in 2012; PBGen Maria Asuncion Placino, Executive Officer, Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Southern Luzon in 2019; and PBGen Jezebel Dominguez-Medina, Acting Director of the PNP Health Service, promoted in December 2022 and the lone female general of PNP as of 2023.
Truly, the historical breakthroughs of these excellent female generals have inspired numerous recognitions of female police officers, and their resilience and strength in law enforcement, their feats, and contributions encouraging more women to enter the police service.
Of the total 229,623 personnel complement of PNP that include PNP Cadets and Non-Uniformed Personnel, 21.51% or 49,400 are women, while the PNP Officer Corps is 17.87% female, with 2,820 women assigned to leadership positions at different levels of the organization.
It is a time to envision a world where women are equal to men in all areas of life and to work towards making that vision a reality. To its realization, every citizen must advocate for women’s rights, support each other, and work towards creating an environment where everyone is treated with respect, dignity, and equality.