SENATOR, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
The Filipinos can always rely on her when it comes to lobbying progressive bills and fighting for national ambitions that stand with the ideals of youth. Evident in the proposed laws she authored and co-authored, this politician has been known to rally behind women, the LGBTQIA+ and the lower to middle-class employees.
Of the 20 bills Senator Risa Hontiveros has signed so far, she is most proud of those under her Healthy Buhay at Hanapbuhay (Healthy Life and Livelihood) advocacy. This includes the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, which highlights every mother’s need for fair and just compensation and rest. The law has increased the paid maternity leave period from 60 days for normal delivery to 105 days.
“The idea behind the law is not only to give expectant mothers ample time to ensure the best possible conditions for a healthy delivery, recovery from childbirth and a stronger mother-child bond,” she explains. “I have said that this is such a ‘happy law’ because new parents say they have been able to enjoy the experience of having a baby to the fullest because of it,” she adds.
This is not the first time Hontiveros sought to bring women’s plight to the table and resolve it. It can be recalled that in 2019, Hontiveros, together with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), signed the Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, which ensures that people, especially females, are protected from gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, as well as educational and training institutions.
“Although great strides have been made in advancing women’s rights in the past decades, women today still have to deal with blatant sexism and misogyny. I worked hard to get that law [Safe Spaces Act] passed to address our reality,” she explains.
In the coming days, Hontiveros seeks to provide well-rounded platforms that cater to the needs of Filipinas; she understands that fighting for equality is a continuous battle. “I think change will eventually be achieved if we just keep at it. We have to keep reaching out to more people, so those in power and our institutions will have no choice but to change for real. Our goal is to make them fully inclusive and render discrimination obsolete. It may be difficult to pull this off, but it’s certainly not impossible. If it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, I’m comforted by the thought that many young leaders will carry on,” Hontiveros stresses.
“Whether you’re an independent woman making bold choices, a mother who wants what’s best for her children, or someone who’s already been there and done that — you must learn to think for yourself and outside of yourself. Beyond your concerns, there is a bigger world out there that you can explore and help change for the better,” she concludes.