The United Nations formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015 and already the Commission on Audit (COA) moved to educate its auditors to plan for the audit of eventual Philippine programs under the SDG roadmap.

COA held a briefing on the efforts of the Philippine Statistical System on Gender Statistics and the SDGs on 9 March 2017 at the Professional Development Center as part of its national women’s month celebration. Assistant National Statistician Wilma A. Guillen of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conducted the briefing.

Assistant National Statistician Wilma A. Guillen of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) briefs COANs on PSA efforts on gender statistics and the Sustainable Development Goals on 9 March 2017.

Officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs are the result of a consultation process among UN member states, civil society and other stakeholders and composed of 17 goals, 169 unique targets, and 230 indicators with focus on economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. The Philippines is one of 193 UN member states who committed to the 17 goals in order to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and fix climate change in the span of 15 years.

Guillen said the member states, including the Philippines, will develop indicators at regional, national and sub-national levels to complement the global indicators. Guillen suggested that the possible indicators that COA can provide are the proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection) under Goal 1 (No Poverty) and proportion of countries with systems to track and make public allocations for gender equality and women’s empowerment under Goal 5 (Gender Equality).

Guillen also shared PSA efforts to improve the availability of relevant, timely, disaggregated and better quality statistics, including the conduct of a pilot survey on evidence and data on gender equality (EDGE) measuring asset and ownership from a gender perspective and development of methodology for generating multidimensional poverty index.

COA officials emphasized the importance of leveling up auditors’ understanding and appreciation of gender and development (GAD) data for use in the audit of GAD funds as well as the need to invest in statistics to enhance audit services.

Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo, COA Gender and Development Focal Point System Technical Working Group Chairperson, stresses the importance of statistics in enhancing audit work.

Meanwhile, COA is already half-way in joining the nation’s celebration of women’s month with focus on collaborative efforts to make change work for women. “Our own GAD Focal Point System has been working tirelessly in implementing GAD programs and projects in the Commission. I am proud to say that women in COA are not only the beneficiaries of GAD programs and projects but are also drivers of change as leaders in the Commission,” Chairperson Michael G. Aguinaldo said.

Commissioner Jose A. Fabia vowed that he will continue to give his support to GAD-related programs in the Commission. “I will always be the shield that protects our women in COA like the way I have protected my five female children,” he said.

Commissioner Isabel D. Agito recognized COAns’ efforts to make changes work not only for the women but also for the men of COA. “Being the lone woman-member of the Commission Proper, I assure everyone that I will do my best to be conscientious in bringing GAD-related concerns in the Commission’s policies,” she said.

Other activities for COA’s celebration of women’s month included the conduct of a seminar on urban gardening on 14 March 2017 and lay forum on psychological effects of sexual harassment in the workplace on 15 March 2017 as well as regional sports competitions to choose the representatives of the regions in the national sports festival to be held during the COA Week anniversary in May.