A Girl from Marawi By Samira Gutoc

A Girl from Marawi By Samira Gutoc

Celebrating women power

The past months saw me guesting in female-led inductions of groups such as the Jaycees Quezon City-Diamante, Rotary, and Inner Wheel. I was also lucky to have been the guest speaker at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), my mom’s school, at the PICC.

Women are central figures these days as mothers in the home and as parent leaders it’s the back-to-school season. Therefore, many activities come to life from their facilitation and organizing skills.

It is also worthy to note that 2019 is the “International Year of the Girl.” Thus, we must acknowledge gender and development (GAD) as vital in accomplishing goals toward Sustainable Development (SD). For us who are conflict survivors, we know that any conflict’s biggest victims are women and children.

But women and men must equally share the responsibility of development. In fact, in this day and age,  women’s participation is mandatory. In financing loans, we urge there be a special window for women. Towards this, we urge the quick implementation of the DWSD-led 4Ps law, and a special shout out to implementors to ensure that solo parents are especially supported.

Since all issues are women’s issues,  I connect this issue to the clearing operations in Manila. Families are affected. While laudable, it has its social and not just economic impact on the affected vendors. Being from the poorest region, Maranao residents of Marawi who migrated for greener pastures are  displaced a SECOND TIME by these operations.

While we support the cleaning of our streets, our vendors who rely on the hundred peso earning every day must be assisted for relocation. Why not tap into the billions in funds for Marawi for site relocation development for these vendors?

Women again are affected, as most of these vendors are women. Low involvement of women in governance, I assert,  can even be detrimental to their cause. Women, at least in the judiciary and security sector, are found to be less corrupt. Because of having a high emotional quotient (EQ), women  tend to address the various facets of a problem and  look at consequences and not just outputs (shout out to males who do the same, this is not a generalization).  

In one Commission on Elections (Comelec)-led summit in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where I spoke in Cotabato City years ago, we saw an appalling number of figures that represented the very low participation of women in barangays.

Many factors such as fears, lack of resources, absence of affinity to the incumbent and other factors contributed to this vacuum of a situation for women participation, even if gender and development (GAD) has long been a law in itself through the Women in Nation-Building Act.

At the Inner Wheel induction in Iligan City, I met the president who worked freelance online from home. We can actually harness women’s talents using the cheap technology of social media. Here in Mindanao, we can promote our projects such as visitation to our unseen places . We can host conventions and thus help so many sectors i.e. transport, food, pasalubongs. Tourism is, afterall, a key driver of development in our supposed archipelago. As a co-drafter of the Mindanao 2020 for Mindanao Development Authority a decade ago, we celebrate the rich resources that are sleeping and need investment.

We urged the civic women members to take advantage of the existing peace in their neighbour Bangsamoro (Marawi and Cotabato) brought about by a signed peace agreement, at last, after 40 years of tragedy and displacement. We need to train the communities that have not been able to experience industrial growth.

Women, afterall, are not just effective peace ambassadors, they are also resilient and passionate. Women see details which many ignore and they find ways when many give up. This was our message at the PWU celebration.

We look towards the day when we women can walk alongside our menfolk, holding the helm of companies and MSMEs as Board Members if not as CEOs.

Then, we can show how it is done — walking the talk.

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Editor’s Note:

Samira Gutoc is the former screening chairperson of the The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM). She is also active in advocating for more nominees coming from diverse cultures and fields of expertise to the Ten Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service or TOWNS. Check out townsfoundation.net for more details.

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