Throughout the Bangsamoro’s history, the harsh realities of poverty, underdevelopment and violence amid armed conflict have had a disproportionate impact on Bangsamoro women. For years, societal narratives seemed to highlight how Bangsamoro women have been negatively affected by violent conflict. At times, these narratives overlooked the crucial role played by women as agents of change for peace and development in their respective communities.
During the transition period, we have witnessed the transformation of these narratives, underpinned by the important contributions of women to the implementation of the peace agreement, both in the paths of political transition and normalization. We have seen more women empowered to play crucial roles in peacebuilding and governance in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). We also heard stories of hope, action and resilience among Bangsamoro women in the face of multiple risks and vulnerabilities resulting from natural disasters, violent conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic. As women are more affected by the impact of conflict, there is a need for them to be on board and meaningfully participate in conflict resolution and peace processes to ensure a gender-responsive and gender-responsive process and outcome. .
At BARMM, women make up 51% of the total population. Thus, there can be no real peace without the meaningful inclusion and participation of women in the construction of the Bangsamoro. The history of the Bangsamoro peace process is replete with stories of women taking on crucial roles as advocates, facilitators, mediators and peacemakers. For example, in 2018, thousands of Bangsamoro women, some of whom walked barefoot in the hot sun, lobbied and rallied for the passage and ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL). They wanted peace and actively claimed their positions to participate in peace and nation building.
The eventual demise of BOL, which paved the way for the creation of BARMM, created a positive environment for women’s participation and leadership in the region. Several provisions of the BOL sought to recognize the important role of women in peacebuilding and development in the region, such as the inclusion of seats reserved for women, youth and indigenous communities in the Bangsamoro Parliament, the appointment of at least one woman in the Bangsamoro Cabinet, and the consideration of women’s needs in rehabilitation and development programs. The BOL also highlighted the promotion of gender sensitivity in all aspects of security and peacebuilding, including ensuring the meaningful participation of women in decision-making at all levels of governance. More concretely, the BOL also provided for the creation of the Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC).
In 2020, with the support of development partners including UNDP, BWC launched the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (RAP-WPS) 2020-2022, which aimed to strengthen the role Bangsamoro women in the implementation of the peace agreement, in conflict transformation and in the protection of their human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations. Additionally, in support of BARMM’s Women, Peace and Security program, the BWC and UNDP supported the establishment of the Women Insider Mediators-Rapid Action and Mobilization Platform (WIM-RAMP), a group of women mediators and peacemakers community. Comprised of women leaders representing their own respective organizations, WIM-RAMP members are committed to actively working to build community. One year after their founding in 2021, WIM-RAMP members continue to reach out to marginalized and vulnerable groups in their efforts to build resilience and peace in their respective communities. The BWC and UNDP WPS program is supported by various development partners, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway and the European Union.
The way forward is clear: if we want to strengthen the resilience of communities and build lasting peace in the region, we must continue to invest in the women of Bangsamoro.
Truly, the Bangsamoro region has come a long way in understanding the importance of gender-responsive and gender-responsive approaches to peacebuilding and development. Yet much remains to be done to ensure that the women and men of Bangsamoro also benefit from the gains of the peace process. It is the right of every Bangsamoro woman to be actively included and involved, especially in this time of transition where peace and development efforts are focused on rebuilding communities, addressing injustices and restoring trust. and social cohesion.
This Women’s Month, UNDP joins forces with BWC to shine the spotlight on Bangsamoro women who are actively contributing to peace and development in Bangsamoro communities. We recognize their stories of struggle, hope, resilience and empowerment as they work and champion their aspirations for an inclusive and peaceful society for all. “We stand in solidarity with them to make CHANGE work for Bangsamoro women” and we are committed to encouraging and supporting Bangsamoro women to claim their interests and assume their role as peacebuilders and leaders in their respective fields. .
Dr. Selva Ramachandran is the UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines and MP Hadja Bainon G. Karon is the Chairperson of the Bangsamoro Women Commission.