The Commission on Audit (COA) moves to level up its gender mainstreaming efforts as it joins the national celebration of 2018 National Women’s Month spearheaded by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) this March with the theme “WE Make Change work for Women.”

After ranking first among government agencies assessed by the PCW for their gender mainstreaming efforts in 2016, the Commission leveled up its Gender and Development (GAD) programs including the continuous improvement in the audit of GAD funds, active participation in GAD-related events such as the 61st Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York City and the issuance of policies such as the establishment of the Women Help Desk of the COA GAD Focal Point System (GFPS).

The Commission garnered an over-all score of 81.23 which is equivalent to Level 4, meaning the Commission’s GAD efforts reached the Commitment Enhancement and Institutionalization level. COA was the only government agency to have reached Level 4 using the Enhanced Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework.

“To make change work for women, we need to level up our gender mainstreaming efforts to empower women as decision makers and contributors to development as well as implement the Magna Carta of Women at all levels. It takes our combined endeavor and determination to make changes that are truly responsive to the issues that women and men face,” said COA Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo.

“We in the COA play a crucial role in this mission by making sure that GAD funds are properly and judiciously spent by government and that GAD programs implemented by government agencies have value to their beneficiaries,” he added.

The Commission not only conducts audit of GAD funds and the results included in the audit reports of national and corporate government agencies and local governments but also continuously improves its GAD audit by including GAD in the audit of PPAs of audit teams engaged in Citizen Participatory Audits and those of Official Development Assistance-funded projects. COA also established a national pool of resource persons to continuously build capacity of auditors in the audit of GAD funds. Moreover, COA plans to include Goal 5- Gender Equality of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its Strategic Audit Plan 2017-2030 on SDGs.

COA and the PCW have likewise regularly conduct seminars and training in GAD Planning and Budgeting to guide agency officials in their use of GAD funds.

“The Commission ensures that GAD programs are properly implemented to benefit not only COA employees but also the employees of other government agencies. In fact, COA has collaborated with the PCW for continuous sharing of knowledge, expertise, and experience on GAD planning, budgeting, and auditing. The gender mainstreaming efforts of COA in collaboration with the PCW aims to enhance public awareness on the role of women in public governance,” observed Commissioner Jose A. Fabia.

Meanwhile, the Commission began its celebration of Women’s Month with a parade of athletes and formal opening of the games on 1 March 2018.

“Enjoy all the activities line up for the whole month which is a mixture of fun through the conduct of sports competitions, fellowship through the Choir and Cultural Presentations; and learning from the seminars and livelihood programs that we will implement in coordination with partner agencies,” said Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo, Chairperson of the Technical Working Group of the COA GFPS.

Line-up of activities for women’s month also include conduct of seminars on Gender Perspective of Rural women in Agriculture on 5 March, livelihood program (cooking, pastry and coffee making) on 6 March and lay forum on early detection of deafness on 13 March as well as a cultural and dance competition on 7 March.