On May 28, PKKK joined the observation of the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, along with a broad network of women’s rights advocates and allies in the sexual and reproductive health & rights (SRHR) movement. In the online rally, PKKK called for reproductive justice especially as the marginalized groups of women deal with the negative impact of COVID-19. In the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, the long-standing issue of inaccessible SRHR services even worsened with the pandemic. Rural women leaders attested that there’s not enough service providers, such as barangay nurses, who can provide services regularly. For instance, in the remote areas of Zamboanga del Sur, there is only one (1) nurse for two (2) barangays, and they can only manage to visit the area three (3) times every month. In the household budget, the rural women could not prioritize their health needs in consideration of the loss of jobs and livelihoods in their families. The strict protocols, lack of information, decreased income, and increased care work among women have limited their mobility and have rendered them more “dependent” on the male family members. This could also mean lesser control over their bodies and increased gender-based violence, such the 12,000 additional intimate partner violence during quarantine. Unfortunately too for some young women, the effect of the pandemic on their schooling and survival needs have led them to cases of early marriage and pregnancy. It is estimated that unintended pregnancies among age groups 15-19 reached about 102,200 last year. The number of unintended pregnancies have reached around 2,560,000, while about 1,261,500 induced abortions that are likely to be unsafe and life-threatening to women. There’s an estimated 3,170 number of maternal deaths or about 8 mothers per day.
All these are matters of human rights, particularly the right to life, and therefore deserve immediate attention. We sound the alarm and say #WomensHealthMatters, #SRHRisEssential, and #EndInequalityPandemic!