BACOLOD City – Advocates and sectoral leaders gathered for the observance of the first Negros Occidental Safe Space Day alongside the launch of the annual Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW) from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12 here on Friday.
Nov. 24 is declared the province’s Safe Space Day under Provincial Ordinance 009-2023 in line with the initiatives to localize Republic Act 11313, otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act, which covers all forms of gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH) committed in public spaces, educational or training institutions, workplace, and online space.
“Let us advocate for VAW-free homes and communities and make Negros a safe space for everyone not only today or during the observance of the annual 18-day to end VAW,” Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said in a statement.
Lawyer Andrea Lizares-Si, chair of the Provincial Council for Women (PCW), led the safe spaces pledge, where Lacson, city and municipal mayors, Capitol department heads and advocates from various sectors committed to being partners in making Negros Occidental a safe space for its people.
“We will do what we can to ensure that within our local government units, sectors and organizations, workplaces and educational institutions, GBSH shall have no place,” they said in a statement.
The participants pledged to educate themselves, local officials, government employees, and the communities on the core provisions of the Space Spaces Act and Provincial Ordinance 009.
They also committed to putting in place necessary mechanisms to prevent and address GBSH, strengthen complaint desks, and capacitate service providers in handling cases, as well as collaboration with other government agencies and organizations for programs, projects, and activities to aid the implementation of the Safe Spaces Act.
During the program, winners of the “Liso Kabuhi Ko 2023,” a home and community gardening project initiated as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response of the PCW and the Provincial Board’s Committee on Women, Children and Family chaired by 5th District Board Member Rita Gatuslao, were awarded.
Top winners were Barangay Nagasi Kalipi Organization of La Carlota City in the community group category and Rosa Bayoneta and family of Barangay Ayungon, La Carlota City in the individual/family category.
“‘Liso Kabuhi Ko’ continues because food security remains a critical issue that faces Negrense women and families,” the organizers said. (PNA)