Actress and Valenzuela City Councilor Charee Pineda tied the knot with fellow politiko Martell Soledad, The two politikos got married in a civil ceremony officiated by Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian

WATCH | ‘Love team sa serbisyo!’ Valenzuela councilor Charee Pineda, Martell Soledad tie the knot

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Villanueva: Women key to success against Covid-19 pandemic

Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday stressed the key role that women play in defeating the pandemic, saying female leadership would make it possible to win against the most serious health crisis gripping the Philippines and the rest of the world.

In a speech sponsoring Senate Resolution 673 commemorating International Women’s Day, the chair of the Senate labor committee said women now have decisive roles in determining the fate of the country and it was time to acknowledge that.

“If women are with us every step of the way, we cannot lose our way,” Villanueva said in his sponsorship speech.

“If the status of women in society continues to rise, our country will, too,” he said. “And as long as there are women who continue to lead the fight against the pandemic, it is impossible for the people not to be victorious,” he added.

To illustrate the barriers that had been breached by women empowerment, Villanueva recalled his days at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) as the agency’s head.

“I can say that in various trades dominated by highly-skilled male workers, women are successfully breaking the barriers,” Villanueva said.

“In fact, more than 50 percent of technical-vocational graduates are women and they have proven that by taking courses more popular among men, they can also excel in them,” he added.

“Many Filipino women are now making a decent and stable living as welders, drivers, automotive mechanics,” he said.

Italy mayor accused of vaccine queue-jumping resigns

A town mayor in Italy’s Sicily region said Sunday he was stepping down after coming under fire for jumping the queue for coronavirus vaccinations.

“I spent a sleepless night thinking about this decision and I concluded that it is right for me to resign,” Nicolo Nicolosi, 78, told the ANSA news agency.

Nicolosi, mayor of Corleone, a small town near Palermo, said he was quitting “even if I insist that I made the right choice in getting vaccines for me and city councillors.”

On Saturday, press reports said police were investigating the mayor and other members of the municipal government, and had reported the case to local prosecutors.

The city of Corleone — otherwise famous for inspiring the name of the Mafia boss from “The Godfather” franchise — confirmed on its Facebook page that Nicolosi got two vaccine doses in January.

Italy started its vaccination campaign in late December, reserving the first doses for health workers and people over 80. Like in the rest of Europe, supply shortages have caused delays.

Nicolosi argued that local politicians like him also needed immediate protection against the virus, as frontline workers serving their local communities.

His vaccination was “a conscious choice made to stave off the possibility that any contact with the virus might have forced him to abandon his post on the trenches,” the city of Corleone said on Facebook.

Nicola Morra, a senator from the ruling Five Star Movement and head of the upper chamber’s anti-mafia committee, said Nicolosi was not the only local politician who abused the system.

“Unfortunately we are hearing of several situations in which the rule of law was trampled on,” Morra wrote on Facebook, urging other queue jumpers to follow the example of stepping down.

Italy has so far injected 5.3 million doses of the vaccine and fully vaccinated 1.6 million people, out of a population of 60 million, health ministry data showed Sunday.

New Prime Minister Mario Draghi, sworn in last month, has made it a priority to accelerate vaccine distribution, to contain a pandemic that has killed almost 100,000 people nationwide. © Agence France-Presse

Covid’s impact could mean millions more child marriages: Unicef

The outsized impact Covid-19 has had on women in some countries could result in an additional 10 million child marriages in this decade, according to a new analysis released Monday by Unicef.

“School closures, economic stress, service disruptions, pregnancy and parental deaths due to the pandemic are putting the most vulnerable girls at increased risk of child marriage,” said a study titled “Covid-19: A threat to progress against child marriage.”

That trend, if confirmed, would represent a serious retreat from recent years of progress against child marriage.

In the last 10 years, according to the study, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had declined by 15 percent, from nearly one in four to one in five.

That progress “is now under threat,” said the study, released on International Women’s Day.

“Covid-19 has made an already difficult situation for millions of girls even worse,” said Unicef executive director Henrietta Fore.

“Shuttered schools, isolation from friends and support networks, and rising poverty have added fuel to a fire the world was already struggling to put out.”

Girls who marry in childhood, the study said, are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to remain in school. They face an increased risk of early and unplanned pregnancy, and maternal complications and mortality.

Isolation from family and friends can take “a heavy toll on their mental health.”

Meantime, pandemic-related travel restrictions and physical distancing have made it harder for girls “to access the health care, social services and community support that protect them from child marriage, unwanted pregnancy and gender-based violence,” while making it more likely that they drop out of school.

In addition, families facing economic hardship may seek to marry off their daughters to ease financial burdens.

The report estimates that 650 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, about half of them in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India or Nigeria.

Fore called for countries to reopen schools, implement legal reforms, ensure access to health and social services while providing measures to protect families.

By doing so, she said, “we can significantly reduce a girl’s risk of having her childhood stolen through child marriage.” © Agence France-Presse

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