Aside from the National Women’s Month celebration, it is also in the month of March that the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) commemorates its inauguration.
Since its establishment in 2019, the Bangsamoro Government has gone a long way in terms of peace and development, and it is important to note that this can not be achieved without the meaningful inclusion and active participation of Bangsamoro women.
The Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which created the BARMM, has several provisions that seek to recognize the important role of women in nation-building and regional development, and ensure their representation in other decision-making and policy-determining bodies of the Bangsamoro Government.
BOL also provides that aside from the reserved seat for women in the Parliament, at least one (1) woman must be appointed to the Bangsamoro Cabinet.
Looking back at their contributions in the establishment of BARMM, here are the women members of the Bangsamoro Cabinet:
1. Atty. Raissa Jajurie
Before being the minister of the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) for three years now, Jajurie was part of the delegation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that negotiated on the peace agreement on which the BARMM was founded.
“Naging bahagi din ako ng Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), for two times, which was tasked to write the draft bill of what is now the BOL,” she said.
Jajurie then became a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament, taking part in crafting the BTA’s priority bills, defending them until passed into law.
As the MSSD Minister, Jajurie said: “We had to make sure that we had enough resources and human resources, para po talagang makagawa tayo ng mga programa na maramdaman ng tao sa baba.”
”When we came in, we made sure na klaro sa mga empleyado na we have zero tolerance for corruption, at I think nakikita naman ng tao dito na may bago tayong ethics, norms, at yung culture ng korapsyon ay walang espasyo dito,” she added.
2. Engr. Aida Silongan
Also a BTA member, Silongan functions as the minister of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).
“I serve as the chairperson of the (BTA’s) Committee on Science and Technology. Here, we initiate different legislations that aim to develop the culture of research on science and technology,” Silongan said.
Silongan shared that she left her engineering career to volunteer for the MILF, specifically to its women sector, the Social Welfare Committee. She was also designated as the first and only woman member of the Board of Directors of the Bangsamoro Development Agency, the development arm of the MILF.
She also became the program management officer of the Community Development for Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao (CD-CAAM) in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which provided livelihood programs to Bangsamoro communities through organic farming, livelihood sustainability, and infrastructure.
“These implemented projects became a way of bridging people and promoting peace and development in the Bangsamoro land,” Silongan said.
3. Bainon Karon
Karon is the chairperson of the Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) – the primary policy-making, coordinating, and monitoring body of women, gender and development in the region. She is also a member of the BTA Parliament.
Prior to this, Karon served as the Cabinet Regional Secretary of the then Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-ARMM).
”This further influenced my desire to continue what I have started since my consciousness of getting involved with empowering women, as serving my fellow women is just another face of revolution by sustaining peace through livelihood assistance, capacity building, rehab programs, and other social services,” Karon said.
“These are not far from what we have been doing in adherence to the mandates of the BWC, which is to promote, protect, and uphold women’s rights and eliminate all forms of discrimination,” she added.
4. Atty. Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba
Appointed as the Bangsamoro Attorney General in 2019, Alba said her greatest achievement as a Muslim woman leader is helping set up the Bangsamoro Government.
“Masaya ako kasi kahit nasa background lang naman tayo, hindi man sa implementing office, I belong to the Office of the Chief Minister, which is mostly policy making,” she said.
“Nakikita natin yung isang matatag na leadership, under Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim. At ito yung isang malaking inspirasyon para sa akin bilang isang woman leader…ang kagandahan ng leadership na ito ay hindi nila tinitingnan kung ano ang kasarian mo,” Alba added.
Alba is proud to be one of the Cabinet member authors of the Bangsamoro Administrative Code, the first ever enacted priority legislation of the BTA.
In his message for the National Women’s Month celebration, CM Ebrahim said: “Just like our previous celebrations, I am always proud to say that the Bangsamoro as an identity, as a people, and now as a political entity, would not be possible without the sacrifices and contributions of our Bangsamoro women.” (BIO)