BULUAN, MAGUINDANAO – Clad in their colorful Hijabs, the Bangsamoro women have assembled here to make change possible in the region.

More than a thousand women gathered to bid for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) during the Congressional hearing on the proposed bill in the Buluan Municipal Gym in Maguindanao last March 8, 2018.

The hearing, which coincided with the International Day of Women, attracted approximately 1,400 women holding placards that call for Congress to pass the Bangsamoro Transition Commission’s version of the bill.

“We trust that there will be just and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but for the whole country once BBL is passed,” Halima Utto Mabang, President of the Association for Bangsamoro women for Community Development (ABCD) in Municipality of Datu Paglas said in her statement.

“The standard of living will improve for the people of Mindanao, not only for the Bangsamoro people, but also for non-Bangsamoro and Indigenous people.”

Dalman Otto Nolaguia, also a delegate, narrated that she was a victim of conflict in Mindanao where she sustained gunshot wounds due to a battle in 1973. She pleaded the representatives to be instruments in ending the deadly conflict in the region.

“The light of Mindanao (passage of BBL), rest in your hands,” she said.

In the proposed bill, women shall have one reserved seat in Bangsamoro Parliament (BP) and will be represented in the Council of Leaders.

The BBL also provides that there shall be at least one qualified woman to be appointed to the Bangsamoro Cabinet.

The BP shall enact a law that recognizes the important role of women in nation-building and regional development, and ensures their representation in other decision-making and policy-determining bodies of the Bangsamoro Government.

A Bangsamoro Women Commission will also be created.

The House Committees on Local Government, Muslim Affairs, and Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity are currently conducting a series of deliberations and consultations in several cities and municipalities in Mindanao.

The hearing will continue in in Tubod, Lanao Del Norte on March 15 and will conclude in Marawi on March 16.