IndustriALL Women Philippines called for increased maternity protection at a press conference on 10 November.
The women’s network of IndustriALL Global Union in the Philippines, together with Annie Geron of Public Services International (PSI), which represents public service workers, called on the country’s lawmakers to give women’s protection the same level of attention they give to business, investments, technological advancement and education. They also called on lawmakers to urgently pass Senate Bill 215 or the “Expanded Maternity Leave Act of 2016,” authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros of the social democratic Akbayan party.
IndustriALL Women Philippines expressed concern that the Philippines social security law – which is more than 24 years old - does not follow the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 183 or the Maternity Convention signed by the Philippines in 2000.
“It is lamentable that our lawmakers have always struggled to pass laws and craft policies for world class efficiency and global competitiveness, despite challenges of budget limitation, broken structure and structural inequalities but leave behind women protection,” said Sion Binos, IndustriALL Women Philippines’ Chairperson.
Senator Hontiveros champions the campaign in the Senate. Confident that increased maternity leave will greatly reduce child mortality in the Philippines, she stressed, “the centre of this legislation is that women workers’ rights are human rights. We cannot be in the business of punishing women who give birth.”
“Both IndustriALL and PSI challenge the Senate to expedite hearing on SB 215,” added Binos and Geron. They said that this women-friendly legislation is long overdue.
IndustriALL presented a study conducted in four countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Philippines - where the latter lagged behind other countries in Asia in terms of gender equality and maternity protection.
IndustriALL believes that increased maternity protection is good economics and is the best proof of corporate social responsibility. It enables women to carry out their role of bearing and nursing children while maintaining their productive roles as workers. Healthy women produce healthy babies, the future labour force, future taxpayers and the human race of the future. Combined with the existing reproductive health law, couples planning their families result in better child spacing.
“Studies show that mothers need 120 days to fully recover from giving birth, to breastfeed and to establish the routine for her newborn, and to make arrangements necessary for a smooth transition back to work,” said Binos.
IndustriALL and PSI Philippines appeal on employers to support this call and look at their maternity protection as an investment rather than additional expense.
Both global unions explained that if women are given enough rest to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, she will be more productive when she comes back to work. They also urge employers not to view women with children to take care as liability but rather as an inspiration to be more productive at work. A healthy and happy working mother does her best at work.