(Clockwise): Newly constructed ramp with handrails; private consultation area; and wheel chair- and stroller-accessible female washroom with infant changing table
02 December 2019, Paris, France – As part of its Gender and Development (GAD) Program, the Philippine Embassy in Paris initiated this year several structural improvement projects to make the chancery more responsive to the needs, primarily of its female clients and also of its own female employees.
Consular office renovations
With the welfare of its clients in mind, while considering carefully its responsiveness to female clients with special needs, the Embassy embarked on major renovations earlier this year at the consular section. It constructed a concrete ramp, with safety handrails leading into the building’s public entrance, to provide easy access for children’s strollers/push chairs and wheelchairs. In addition to this, the once single washroom was replaced by a separate female and male washroom. The female washroom was then expanded in surface area to provide room for strollers/wheel chairs and an infant changing table permanently fixed to the wall.
Apart from this, a private consultation room was also constructed in front of the leftmost portion of the consular counter to provide privacy to Filipino clients in distress and/or those who require special assistance. Almost all of such cases involve Filipina clients. This private room has the double purpose of providing a breastfeeding area, for consular clients who may have a need for it.
The waiting area of the consular section - also completely renovated - has been furnished with new seating, good lighting, proper heating and cooling equipment to provide increased comfort to clients, most of whom are also women.
Improvement of employees’ work spaces
As the Embassy GAD program also caters to the needs of its female employees, the structural improvements undertaken include the complete renovation of the working spaces of the consular team, majority of which are women (including four mothers).
An additional, formerly unused, space was created right next to this working space to serve as the primary pantry and dining area of the Embassy, which is used by its mostly female workforce.
Both improved spaces have been fitted with multifunctional and modern furniture and equipment that are designed to increase employee productivity through increased comfort and convenience, by providing more open spaces, good lighting, proper ventilation and regulated ambient temperature.
(Clockwise) H.E. Ambassador Lazaro (center), Consul General Aileen Mendiola-Rau (front) and female Embassy personnel with one of her kids at the newly set-up Embassy Nursing Room at the Chancery; inside the Embassy Nursing Room; and a dedicated toilet close to the Nursing Room.
As a final project for this year and a symbolical “Christmas” offering by the Ambassador, a Nursing Room (Lactation Station) has now been set up at the Chancery for the female mothers of the Embassy. Located close to the Embassy nursing room is a washroom and a kitchen with a large washbasin and a dedicated refrigerated area to store expressed breast milk.
Philippine Ambassador to France, H.E. Ma. Theresa Lazaro, recalled that, “there was a two-year period in the recent past, wherein four Embassy employees gave birth and had the need to express and refrigerate breast milk during working hours. I am pleased that the future mothers of the Embassy will now be able to use this Nursing Room while they take their lactation breaks as provided for by law under Republic Act 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009.
I am also pleased that we will be able to provide more convenience to our female consular clients, if they need to take with them their babies and young children, since we now have a stroller/push chair ramp and baby-changing facilities.
We have undertaken these structural improvements at the Embassy, paying particular attention to the needs of our female kababayans and katrabaho, as a way of expressing our continued commitment to fulfilling the Philippine Government’s goal of gender equality and women empowerment.” For more information, visit the Embassy’s website and Facebook page. END.