• Pts 2 and 3: Empowering women for peace and development

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    [This has the 2nd and 3rd parts of this three-part treatise. The first part had the title “Part 1: Rationale and moralities.” Against the best editing practice, the Times Op-Ed Editor has allowed Ms. Tirona’s eccentric numbering of every paragraph because that seems to be her unique style in an effort to vest the article with the aura of a diplomatic presentation or some kind of an official document.]

    Part II: Conductive environment
    1. An environment of peace means living a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. Women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns and approaches to natural resource management. Therefore, women must be made aware of resource depletion, the degradation of natural systems and the dangers of polluting substances. These worsening conditions destroy fragile ecosystems and environment. These occurrences require urgent action if we are to uplift the conditions of our women. Indeed, poverty and environmental degradation are interrelated.

    2. Women can be empowered by organizing them and strengthening existing women’s organizations. People-to-people solidarity among women and peace organizations must be established. Women’s groups must be enjoined to lobby for a greater share of the government budget and official development assistance for social services, rehabilitation and reconstruction work, substantial economic and social reforms like agrarian reform and rural development, and conversion of arms expenditures into programs which satisfy the poor’s basic needs.

    3. I must emphasize that in strengthening the role of women in building peace and development, interventions must not neglect reforms at the household level. Practically speaking, if the common housewife in the remote areas cannot participate in the peace and development process, then the whole strategy of empowerment and capability-building for peace and development will not effect a genuine transformation in society.

    4. One such response at the household level is the growth of entrepreneurial activity. The way to effect peace through development is by ensuring that the poor, especially the women, are self-sufficient.

    5. Gone are the days when women are at the receiving end. The women must be encouraged to take on a proactive stance that will present an offensive action against the perils of poverty and insecurity.

    6. There must be a real effort to increasingly promote micro enterprises for rural women, as a way of alleviating rural poverty, addressing gender inequality and jumpstarting growth in poor agrarian regions. However, before our women can take advantage of such opportunities, the constraints they face in accessing inputs, markets, skills training and credit must be overcome.

    7. Development projects and programs that will help women organize themselves in solidarity groups, such as community-based savings club, self-help organizations, and work exchange groups, must be in place. Membership in such organizations has helped individual women to combine efforts and pool savings to improve their economic situation and to enhance their power through greater participation in development and decision-making process.

    8. Therefore, the key element for building structures of peace and democracy is capability-building for women within the national level and within local communities. The programs and projects designed for women and peace must fall along four thrusts: first is to provide basic social and amelioration measures to alleviate the situation of women victims of armed conflict situations; second is to organize consciousness-raising and advocacy campaigns to raise the level of awareness on women’s role in the peace process; third is to equip and educate women for a meaningful participation in the peace structures; and fourth is to enable women to actively engage themselves in the development process.

    9. In the midst of the continuing and unresolved situation of instability and violence, the implementation of cooperative approaches to peace and security is urgently needed. The equal access and full participation of women in peace and development structures and their full involvement in all efforts for the prevention and resolution of conflicts are essential in finding the solution for example to the Mindanao problem.

    Part III: From culture of violence to culture of peace
    1. Our mission is to transform this culture of violence into a culture of peace. Our goal is to create an alliance of women, children, and men committed to actualizing peace in our hearts, our families, our communities, and in our county. We will build a solid foundation of strength, which will work to reverse the destructive downward spiral of greed, anger and hatred to a constructive upward spiral of happiness, harmony, and cooperation.

    2. And so how do we respond to the crucial question of how women can be empowered to discern their thinking on peace, find and hone their voices, and raise them decisively to stop all violence and build justice and solidarity that bear peace and development?

    3. The concerns of women in relation to building peace and promoting development necessitate a comprehensive package of policies and strategies. To summarize; inter alia

    a. There should be an integration of the gender perspective in the peace and development process at the national and local levels, and an establishment of gender-sensitive modes of conflict resolution;

    b. Women’s participation as decision-makers in the planning and implementation of the peace and development agenda should be promoted, enhanced and institutionalized;

    c. Ameliorative measures in the areas of women’s human rights and rehabilitation must be implemented;

    d. The environment must be conducive enough to enable women to pursue entrepreneurial activity to spur productivity and growth especially in the rural areas;

    e. The work of women’s organizations and groups sympathetic to the needs of women must be enhanced, and

    f. There should be mainstreaming of peace education in key social and educational institutions to reflect gender-sensitive concepts of peace, security and conflict resolutions as well as values of compassion, caring and cooperation toward fellow citizens.

    4. Given this background and a resolve to recognize the potentials of women in peace- making and in national development, the immediate future could well in the hands of both women and men. This is a formidable partnership that spells a progressive destiny.

    [Part 1 of this treatise by Ambassador Tirona was published on Saturday June 28. The Manila Times publishes works by members of the Philippine Ambassadors’ Foundation Inc. (PAFI) under an agreement with the Foundation to supply articles about the foreign policy concerns of our country.]

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