SI JUANA SA ADYENDA AT PROSESONG PANGKAPAYAPAAN At the Launch of Estado ni Juana: The State of Filipino Women Report, held in Malacanang, Manila By Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process 08 March 2016
Sa mga kabaro, and the men who journey with us –
In our quest to find lasting peace for our communities that have been ravaged by decades of conflict, we continually ask if women’s various roles as peacemakers, mediators, healers, and community workers, among others, have made a sustained and lasting impact that will lead to the betterment of our people, especially women.
It is with great pride that I can stand here today and say that, over the past six years, the women who are fighting to bring peace to our homes have indeed made unprecedented progress in this regard.
The Aquino administration’s pursuit of peace builds on the hard work of women that we can trace in every chapter of our history—from women fighting in the Revolution, to women winning the right to suffrage, to women throwing off the shackles of a dictatorship, to women battling on in the continuing quest for gender equality.
Over the years, all the successes and small victories have brought us to a place where women finally have the confidence and the space to articulate their desires and stand their ground for their advocacies—and I am happy to say that this is true especially in the peace process. We have made much progress not only in bringing women’s issues into the agenda, but also in increasing and enhancing the role of women in peace negotiations. Sa usaping pangkapayapaan, maipagmamalaki nating hindi lang kasama ang kapakanan ni Juana sa adyenda; kabilang din sya—nangunguna pa nga—sa pagbuo at paghulma nito.
Take the Bangsamoro peace process as a case in point: The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, or CAB, is historic not only because it signals the end of a decades-long war in Mindanao, but also because it is the first major peace agreement to bear the signature of a woman as Chief Negotiator: Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer. It is the first agreement of its kind to bear the signatures of a total of three women, which accounts for half the negotiating panel of the government and about one-fourth of the total number of its signatories. Women comprise 69% of the government panel’s secretariat and 60% of its legal team; both are headed by women who were under the age of 40 when they first took on the job. Three out of the four working groups that produced the Annexes to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, or FAB, on the government side were women.
This has led to the gendered reading and writing of war and peace that is reflected in the FAB, which explicitly recognizes the basic right of women “to meaningful political participation, and protection from all forms of violence,” and in the many gender-sensitive provisions that can be found especially in its Annexes, which were further strengthened and enhanced in the draftBangsamoro Basic Law, or BBL, which did not pass the 16th Congress.
It came as no surprise, then, that the signing of this Agreement and its continuing implementation was met with global pride and recognition of the strides we have made in bringing women to the forefront of the peace process. And the women, including the women who made their daily, faithful presence felt at the Batasan plenary hall, are not giving up; they are already preparing for the next bout to pass the BBL early in the 17th Congress.
Juana has come a long way—especially since, if we look at previous peace agreements that have been signed, such as the 1996 Final Peace Agreement with the MNLF, we can see that there are no women at the signing table. At best, they are secretariat working in the background, passing around folders to be signed by the men; at worst, they are collateral damage in wars fought mostly by men, quietly doing their best to clean up the mess and mend the homes and communities war leaves broken in its wake.
This stands in stark contrast to where women are now in the peace process. Juana has indeed come a long way, from being a vulnerable victim of war to being a prominent mover for peace.
And it is not only at the peace tables that women have made a dent. As highlighted in the State of the Filipino Women Reportwhich we are launching this morning, we have been implementing a National Action Plan, or NAP, on Women, Peace, and Security, that is anchored on the full realization of the Magna Carta of Women, or Republic Act 9710, and is pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and related Resolutions. In 2010, the Philippines became the first country in Asia to adopt a national plan, marking the 26th NAP worldwide. Here we are harnessing the full force of our bureaucracy, our local governments, and civil society so that, together, we can address women’s most urgent needs on the ground and start building communities where children, women, and men can fully and freely realize their dreams and aspirations.
We have made modest but important headway in this regard. Just to cite a few, there are the “women-friendly spaces” set up by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in evacuation centers to ensure the needed measure of private and safe space for internally displaced women and girls; culture-sensitive trauma healing programs for Muslim women developed by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos; the inclusion of women, peace, and security issues in the training of our foreign service officers by the Department of Foreign Affairs; the adoption of explicit gender equality policies and mechanisms as an integral part of the governance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (we are especially excited about what the Philippine Army is doing to overcome the traditional gender bias in its policies and institutional set-up).
As well, local government units in the most severely conflict-affected areas, led by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, or ARMM, have been capacitated to launch their local versions of the NAP, with major funding support from their own resources. In support of this, five provincial women peace centers, one per province, as well as a Regional Women Peace Center, have been set up in the ARMM, some of which are striving to offer health and legal services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Five months ago, we also launched the first Government Executive Course on Women, Peace and Security in partnership with the Ateneo de Manila University. Participants were drawn from national government agencies, and a second such course is being planned for participants from LGUs. The aim is to build the human infrastructure needed for as long as there is a need for NAP.
At the end of this month, we will launch the Philippine Report on the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which includes the results of a Research on the Implementation of the Philippine NAP from 2010 to 2014.
Juana has indeed accomplished much in the field of peace and security, but we also have so much more to do. We have to make sure these efforts are entrenched and institutionalized. We have to make sure these efforts translate to real change that our people, especially women, can feel on the ground. We have the momentum; we just have to keep on moving.
Juana’s experience in our country’s journey to peace shows that, if anything, change—change that is genuine and tangible, that you can feel on your skin, that you can see in your homes and communities—is possible within our lifetime, if only we all work together.
In a peace process, sometimes a woman’s touch can make all the difference in the world. And, indeed, one can only imagine what difference we can make if we work, hand in hand, sisters all, for a world where our people enjoy better lives, for a world where gender inequality no longer exists, for a world that does not know war.
Thank you and good morning. Happy Women’s Day to all!