In support of the 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW), the Department of Science and Technology VI (DOST VI) Gender and Development (GAD) Program hosted a forum on Republic Act 11313, otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act, and the rights protected by it.

This activity is one way the DOST VI’s GAD Program contributes to the efforts of making the Philippines a violence-free nation as the forum intended to empower agency personnel.

Additionally, the forum was a blended activity with 15 DOST VI employees attending in person and 49 attending virtually.

In an opening message, DOST VI Regional Director Engr. Rowen R. Gelonga emphasized how crucial it is to participate in the above-mentioned 18-day campaign to promote awareness of VAW and how it can severely harm and affect women and children. Engr. Gelonga also added that every gender can be affected by violence and it’s very important to know how to end all forms of violence.

Atty. Ma. Roscelin H. Palomo of the Civil Service Commission Regional Office No. VI served as the event’s resource speaker. She tackled in her discussions how gender biases laid out the foundation for the Safe Spaces Act and how gender inequality more often than not can be a motive for gender-based violence and sexual harassment. Furthermore, Atty. Palomo detailed how administrative disciplinary rules on sexual harassment in public spaces are vital aspects in implementing the Safe Spaces Act.

During the open forum session, Atty. Palomo was asked about what to do in the event of catcalling, to which she replied, “It’s a must for us to stand up for ourselves, but it’s also important that we protect ourselves in the process. Inform the catcallers that you are uncomfortable with the way they behave. If they insist, keep evidence of the incident and report to public authorities.” (DOST VI-KMU)