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PIA Press Release

PGMA kicks off last day in New York with meeting with US women leaders

NEW YORK CITY (via PLDT) (30 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo kicked off her last day in New York with an early-morning meeting Friday (Sept. 28) with the Women Leaders' Working Group led by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice, known to be the most powerful woman in the world, met President Arroyo at the main entrance door of the Empire Suite of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel here where the 8 a.m. meeting was held.

Clad in an aquamarine dress, the Philippines' Chief Executive walked into the suite at five minutes before 8 a.m. She was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Rice's Philippine counterpart.

President Arroyo's meeting with some 50 women leaders preceded her 10 a.m. Country Report to the 62nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN).

The Women Leaders' meeting had Rice -- who was seated across the President calling the assembly to order thus: "I would like to recognize first the President of the Republic of the Philippines..."

With the group of some 50 other women leaders, President Arroyo shared the Philippine experience regarding women empowerment. The group's third meeting centered on the theme, "Progress on Women Empowerment."

President Arroyo who felt honored to participate in the meeting convened by the most powerful woman in the world stressed that women in the Philippines have been enjoying the right of suffrage for the past 70 years.

Filipino women obtained the right to vote in elections via the Women's Suffrage Act that came into being as early as in 1937, ahead of many other nations in the world. In fact, the Philippines recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of women's suffrage.

The second female President of the Philippines also regaled the group about Filipino women having occupied high positions early on in Philippine society. She thus stressed that "we are justifiably proud of this tradition."

The President's Filipina-friendly report is seconded by the 2006 Global Gender Gap Report which ranked the Philippines No. 6 out of 115 countries in terms of gender equality. The report was released by the Women Leaders' Program of the World Economic Forum.

President Arroyo also acknowledged Lilian Hefti, the latest woman head of the Philippines' Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), who turned the tide against revenue shortfalls at mid-year this year, according to Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio R. Bunye.

Bunye said that the President also cited the country's strong laws protecting women, like the laws on anti-trafficking, anti-domestic violence, and anti-sexual harassment.

"We are broadening health care in intensifying micro finance to increase women's opportunities for self-development. Our Philippine plan for gender-responsive development recognizes women in peace-building efforts."

President Arroyo cited two US-assisted projects in Mindanao, one of which focuses on conflict prevention in the Mindanao island of Sulu through skills training, networking and economic development.

The other US-assisted project empowers women in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by providing them with training and technical assistance on livelihood, financial management, and marketing skills, as well as seed loans or grants for their livelihood projects.

Meanwhile, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, chaired by Rice, acknowledges that the education completion rate of girls is 99.9 percent. This, versus the median of 66.7 percent. (PIA) [top]

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