*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.
The ratification of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), which is described as international bill of rights of women, by the Philippine government implies its commitment to uphold gender equality and women’s empowerment and to eradicate whatever forms of discrimination exist in the Philippine setting, in all sectors and conditions including gender-based violence and health. And yet eradication of discrimination and biases against rural women remains elusive due to the following: (1) absence of national and local government support to provide the health needs of the people particularly the poor; and (2) inequality issues such as and cultural barriers, Catholic Church influence on the enactment of reproductive health bill; (3) and lack of gender-sensitivity and gender-responsiveness of local government units.
Many Filipinos, especially rural women are unable to access and use of health care. Compared with other Asian countries, health expenditure in the Philippines registered 3.8 percent which is way below the five percent standard set by the World Health Organization for developing countries. Our health sector is grossly underfunded by at least 40%, representing the cost of unmet needs of many of our people (ABI 2011).