Women's 'dignity kits' now mandatory during disasters
MANILA, Philippines – "Dignity kits" containing basic personal care items for women will soon be distributed in times of disasters and emergencies, according to new government regulations. (READ: How disasters affect women)
The "dignity kit" contains women's personal care items such as toiletries, undergarments, sanitary napkins, and a malong (tube skirt).
The kit also includes a pail, a whistle, a solar lamp with a charger, alcohol, dipper, comb, and a chamber pot.
Meanwhile, pregnant women will also receive maternity pads, baby rubber mats, baby clothes, and a baby blanket.
Evacuation centers will now be required to distribute the kits, as ordered by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin in February. The order detailed the national policy on the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for women's health in health emergencies and disasters.
The DOH order follows the provisions in the Magna Carta for Women and the Responsible and Reproductive Health Law, which state that "timely comprehensive health services must be extended to women during emergencies." (READ: Why gender matters in natural disasters)
Under this order, local governments should assume the lead role in providing MISP and women's dignity kits.
The DOH through its Health Emergency Management Bureau is also in charge of distributing the kits.
In the past 6 years, women have been the 5th poorest basic sector in the Philippines. Disasters could push them further into poverty.
In 2013 alone, over two million women and girls were left devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
For the kits to be "prepositioned" in the field, the government should release funds, which can be sourced from the P38.9 billion Calamity Fund this year, Senator Ralph Recto said in a press statement released Sunday, March 6.
The fund is officially known as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Fund. It can be used for "pre-disaster" activities such as the distribution of emergency needs.
"Ayaw natin na kung kailan tapos na ang emergency ay saka lang bibilhin ang mga ito," Recto said, calling for the kits' early purchase.
(We don't want the government to purchase these items when the emergency is already over.)
Recto stressed that the early procurement of the kits is justifiable since the contents are not perishable.
"And with the frequency of disasters hitting us, there's [only a] small chance that they'll be kept in storage for years," he added.
The news comes two days before the Philippines celebrates International Women's Day. – Rappler.com