Minority Floor Leader MP Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia is this year’s keynote speaker for the launch of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – Region XI’s commemoration of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW). The event is co-led by the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Region XI, in coordination with the Integrated Gender and Development Division of Davao City and Talikala, Inc., a non-government organization fighting against the exploitation and trafficking of women.

Other speakers invited to the event are expected to deliver messages of support for the campaign, including Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Commission of Human Rights Regional Director and Regional Gender and Development Committee Chairperson Atty. Edmundo Albay, and Department of Tourism Regional Director Tanya Virginia Rabat-Tan.

For this year, DSWD XI has a series of virtual activities lined up for the 18-day campaign, including a pre-summit with VAW survivors, and summits with allies that support efforts to end VAW, with a range of service providers, and with various stakeholders in the tourism industry.

Now on its fifth and final year, the theme “VAW-Free Community Starts with Me” is matched with efforts to highlight Republic Act No. 11313, more popularly known as the Safe Spaces Act. Barely two years after the approval of the implementing rules and regulations of the said law, there remains a need to increase awareness regarding its core provisions.

The United Nations now calls VAW the “shadow pandemic,” as Covid-19 data point to an increase in cases of domestic violence linked to restrictions in mobility, making women and children more vulnerable to various forms of violence and abuse both offline and online.