Equality In Tourism would like to recognise the Gender and Development Council Office in Quezon City in the Philippines as a “Highly Commended Participant” in the Gender Equality Champion of the Year Award to be presented at ITB Berlin 2023. 

Quezon is the largest and most populous city in Metro Manila, the region around the national capital, and is renowned for being a central hub in the Philippines with a thriving tourism industry.  With many historical and religious sites, the city is a popular tourist destination in the country.  The commitment of the Gender and Development Council Office to promote gender equality and improve the lives of women is central to the work at Equality in Tourism and so we feel that the Office deserves recognition for their efforts. 

The Quezon City Gender and Development Council Office demonstrates how it is actively promoting gender equality through the range of programs it has implemented across the region.  Their vision for Quezon city is to be a leader and model of rights-based and gender responsive local governance to create a society that is free from gender oppression, violence and discrimination.  The efforts to realise this vision feed into the tourism sector, helping to foster an environment where gender equality is championed. 

In their Award submission, the Office detailed the work they carry out as part of their commitment to adopt and implement measures to protect and promote gender equality.  Under the leadership of Mayor Josefina Belmonte, the Chairperson of the organisation, they have been recognised by the Philippine Commission on Women.  Their initiatives cover education as well as physical and emotional wellbeing of women, with programmes including a Local Learning Hub, Social Hygiene Clinics, and a Protection Centre.  They also take into account the needs of all members of the community regardless of their age, gender and sexual orientation. 

The Quezon City Protection Center provides much needed intervention and protection services to victims and survivors of gender-based violence.  The services they offer can range from legal to medically trained professionals which also include psychologists to help deal with the aftermath of trauma experienced by victims and survivors.  In addition to this, the centre will also refer people to an emergency shelter, Bahay Kalungan, which is run by local government when it is felt that it is unsafe to return to home to an abusive and volatile situation. 

The operations at District Quezon City Pride Council oversees the integration of the city’s programmes and LGBTQIA+ community inclusion.  The city believes that it has been at the forefront when it comes to outreach programs and their participation in the Pride March last year saw over 25,000 people gather to a chant of “Love is Pride, Pride is Love”.  In recognition of her efforts, Mayor Belmonte was awarded with the Bahaghari Champion Award in 2022 by the Philippine Financial and Inter-Industry Pride.  

Mayor Belmonte declares a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to violence, abuse and sexual harassment especially against women in the workplace and in such instances where violations have taken place, there are procedures in place to report incidents such as the Committee on Decorum and Investigation.  For those working in the tourism sector, this provides an outlet to call out gender-based mistreatment. 

Equality in Tourism International commends the efforts of The Quezon City Gender and Development Council Office and their contribution to creating change for women.   

The first ever Gender Equality Champion of the Year Award will be presented at ITB Berlin, 8th March 2023, International Women’s Day.