COTABATO CITY—To uphold a gender-responsive governance and eliminate gender based-violence (GBV) in the region, Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) formally launched the Guidance Note on Handling GBV on Wednesday, Nov. 25.
BWC chairperson Bainon Karon said the guidance note aims to “ensure that GBV victims and survivors in every community in BARMM will receive immediate and effective response from the Philippine National Police (PNP).”
The ceremonial signing between the BWC and Maguindanao Police Provincial Office (PPO) transpired during the kick-off of this year’s 18-day campaign to end violence against women and girls in the region, which highlights the role and essence of the barangay as part of the VAW-free community.
Maguindanao PPO deputy provincial director Pol. Lt. Col. Ganaban Ali extended its support to BWC: “You can expect us to be with you in all of the activities, endeavours, and programs that you will undertake to promote the rights of women in the Maguindanao Province.”
BWC Chief of Staff Helen Rojas said this is the first time a contextualized guidance note was created, and it will be rolled out and replicated in other provinces.
The objectives of this year’s campaign are 1) to promote awareness on the forms of violence, women and girls experience; 2) provide information on laws protecting women and girls; 3) feature VAW-related services that people can access and avail; and 4) promote the strengthening of the prevention and response system on VAW and gather public support for the campaign.
State of the Bangsamoro Women Address
In her State of the Bangsamoro Women Address (SOBWA), chairperson Karon said that the approval of the Bangsamoro Women Commission Act of 2020—a legislation that reaffirms the vital role of women in nation-building and regional development in BARMM— was a milestone.
“This is already the second year of the transition, and there is still a lot to be done to deliver our commitments under the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro, in so far, as women are concerned,” she noted.
Meanwhile, to address women’s needs during Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic, BWC and The Asia Foundation (TAF) have conducted an assessment on the impact of Covid-19 to women in the region.
As per gathered data, 1) 68 percent of the community-based working women were forced to stop pursuing their livelihood activities because of the lockdown and the strict implementation of the community quarantine; 2) the implementation of the community quarantine was accordingly taken advantage of by some suppliers; and 3) 49% of women in the community said that there was a sudden increase in prices of essential commodities.
In response to these findings, Karon, who is also a Member of Parliament (MP), urged her colleagues in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to continuously support efforts in addressing these identified gender issues in BARMM, especially in the context of Covid-19 pandemic.
“For the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, let us continue our work, with much more dedication and commitment to have better lives for the Bangsamoro women, girls, and boys,” Karon said.
After a year of delivering the rights and welfare of Bangsamoro women in the region, Karon said, “BWC and other partners have already conducted a series of consultations with the local government units, civil society, religious leaders, and other stakeholders within and outside BARMM.”
In his message read by Atty. Sha Elija Dumama Alba, Chief Minister “Al-Haj Murad” Ebrahim emphasized the massive contribution of women in building the regional bureaucracy and assured his continuous support to the Commission.
“I thank MP Bainon Karon and her dedicated staff in the Bangsamoro Women Commission for their relentless efforts in pursuing policies and programs that can benefit the lives of our mothers, daughters and sisters in the Bangsamoro. We are and will always be supportive of your work,” Ebrahim said.
Also present during the ceremony were assistant executive secretary Abdullah Cusain, MP Mussolini Lidasan, and representatives from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women, and UK Government.
This annual campaign is pursuant to Proclamation 1172, S. 2006, which declares November 25 to December 12 of every year as the ’18-Day Campaign to End VAW’. This year’s campaign bears the theme, “VAW-free community starts with me”. (Bureau of Public Information)