COTABATO CITY, March 16, 2019 — Close to 400 women leaders and sectoral representatives gathered in Cotabato City on Wednesday to participate in the first Women Stakeholders’ Regional Forum and take part in the crafting of a comprehensive Women’s Development Agenda. The event was in celebration of the National Women’s Month with the theme, “We Make Change Work for Women.”

Executive Director Gloria Jumamil Mercado represented Presidential Adviser on Peace Reconciliation and Unity Carlito G. Galvez Jr in the forum which was attended by delegates coming from the different civil society organizations, academe, municipal and barangay local government units and religious sectors in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In her message, Executive Director Mercado underscored that the involvement of women in peace and development is one of the priority thrusts of Secretary Galvez in the OPAPRU. She also emphasized the invaluable contribution of women leaders in the peace process, particularly in the implementation of the Normalization phase and in the work to be carried out by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

With the theme, “Bringing the Women Together: A Regional Stakeholders Forum,” the one-day forum was spearheaded by the newly-installed BARMM interim government with the hope to create safe spaces where they can speak and listen to each other in addressing key gender issues. The forum also showcased local products and cultural performances alongside workshop sessions.

Discussions during the forum centered on the best practices and lessons learned in the ARMM government, as well as recommendations on how to move forward in the new Bangsamoro government. Delegates actively participated in plenary sessions, multi-stakeholder dialogues, and planning workshops. The deliberations focused on good governance practices, peace and development concerns, provision of basic social services, emergency disaster response and multi-sectoral representation and empowerment.

The event provided the participants an avenue to articulate their views and aspirations, as well as craft policy recommendations that would be incorporated into the Bangsamoro Women’s Agenda. The said Women’s Agenda would then be submitted to the BTA for its consideration and approval.

In the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the newly-established political entity ensures the sectoral representation of the women in the 80-member Parliament. BTA Members,
Former ARMM Executive Secretary Atty. Laisa Masuhud-Alamia, Bangsamoro Women Chair Hja. Bainon G. Karon, former Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Dr. Susana Anayatin, Atty. Anna Tarhata Basman, and Bai Shahara I. Mastura graced the event. Other presenters were former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) – ARMM regional Secretary Dayang Jumaide, former Executive Director of the ARMM Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women and Sulu second district assemblywoman Irene Pungutan-Tillah and National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (NAPWPS) Secretariat Head Helen M. Rojas.

“Let us be an inspiration to all, especially to the young women of the Bangsamoro. May you wield a stronger voice against injustice, violent extremism and conflict, and continue to be the women leaders who can move the Bangsamoro and the whole nation forward,” Executive Director Mercado added.