Women at a recent summit in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, called on the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to include their views in the drafting of the Basic Law for the new Bangsamoro region. This self-governing entity has emerged following a peace agreement after decades of armed conflict.
The Women’s Summit held in Catabato City, Mindanao on 7 March – to coincide with International Women’s day – provided an opportunity for the partners to present a ten-point vision document "A Better Bangsamoro for all: Women’s Contribution to the Bangsamoro Basic Law" to members of the BTC. The document outlines a general provision as well as making specific recommendations in key areas including: Protection from Violence, Conflict and Insecurity and Women’s Meaningful Political Participation. In her opening remarks Commissioner Froilyn Mendoza, co-founder of the Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization, Inc. commented:
We want equal rights for all women and men in the Bangsamoro. We want to be free from all forms of violence and discrimination. We want better access to education, health facilities, and other basic services.
A historical milestone
The creation of these recommendations in itself is a significant achievement – never before have women been given the space to lead such a process – reflecting the commitment of women to building a better Bangsamoro.
The recommendations are the result of 72 consultations with around 2,750 women from a diverse range of backgrounds and ethnicities, including government employees, academics, religious and tribal leaders, politicians, the business sector and former combatants.
Johaira Wahab, BTC Commisioner and Keynote speaker of the Summit, said:
The value of consultation is not just the information … but the process of discernment and understanding. Consultations give opportunity to reflect: Do I see myself as Bangsamoro? Do I like to be part of Bangsamoro?
The BTC is currently drafting the new Basic Law – a regional "constitution" – for the self-governing Bangsamoro , following the successful conclusion of the peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Government of the Philippines earlier this year.
Mohagher Iqbal, Chairman of the MILF peace panel and the BTC stated:
We are here tonight to show solidarity to the women coming from different towns and provinces. Women might be more than half of the population of the Bangsamoro, it is not true to say that women are weaker. Role of men and women are supplementary and complementary in each other … Participation of women in the Bangsamoro government in the future is assured.
Over 310 people, including female members of the BTC, and women from grassroots communities and women’s organisations across the Bangsamoro, attended the Summit.
The Women’s Summit was led by four women’s organisations operating in the Bangsamoro region: Nisa Ul Haqq Fi Bangsamoro; Bangsamoro Women’s Action for Development (BWADI); United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women); and Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization (TLWOI). The summit was funded by the Human Rights and Democracy Fund of the British Foreign Office and coordinated by Conciliation Resources.