AUSTRALIAN SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN MINDANAO
Australia will fund a project to assist women in Mindanao take a more active role in peace and development efforts in Mindanao.
Australia’s international aid agency AusAID will provide Php 72 million (A$2 million) to the Mindanao Commission on Women for a program titled, “Another Mindanao is Possible!”
The program will provide better health services, higher quality education opportunities, and broader employment options for women and girls in Mindanao. Through this program, Australia hopes to contribute further to a peaceful and stable Mindanao.
Ms Irene Santiago, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Mindanao Commission on Women (seated, 3rd from right), and AusAID’s Minister Counsellor in the Philippines, Titon Mitra (seated, 4th from right) signed the project agreement to formally launch the program in Davao City.
Women leaders from different areas in Mindanao joined Ms Irene Santiago, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Mindanao Commission on Women, and AusAID’s Minister Counsellor in the Philippines, Titon Mitra in launching the program in Davao City.
At the launch Mr Mitra said the importance of female participation in achieving strong development outcomes was well-accepted through-out the world.
“Gender disparities in education and employment reduce development growth,” Mr Mitra said. Furthermore, the importance of women’s involvement in preventing, managing and resolving conflict has been recognised by the United Nations Security Council.
“This new program will allow the Commission to continue their important work in raising awareness, and generating support to address the adverse impacts of armed conflicts in Mindanao on Muslim, Christian and indigenous women and children.
“We also hope that AusAID’s partnership with the Commission will contribute to an environment that will allow the various peace and development initiatives in Mindanao to achieve their maximum impact.”
Australia has been supporting the Commission’s programs since 2002. This support includes assisting the Commission to strengthen its advocacy on multiculturalism, build up research data to highlight the issues and concerns particularly of Mindanao women, and enhance knowledge and skills of women on public leadership and governance.
“Australian-supported initiatives in Mindanao hope to contribute not just to the improvement of the well-being of women in Mindanao, but more importantly recognise that their influence on peace and development – in their various roles as mothers, sisters, daughters – extends beyond the home to the larger community,” Mr Mitra said.
Mindanao is a major geographical focus of Australia’s aid program in the Philippines. In the last five years, over 50% of the Australian Government’s official development assistance to the Philippines are channeled to peace and development initiatives in Mindanao, which is a high priority of the Australia-Philippines Development Assistance Strategy.
As well as contributing to specific peace-building initiatives, Australia, through AusAID’s bilateral initiatives, works with Philippines Government agencies in improving the delivery of basic and social services in Mindanao, particularly in the priority areas of basic education, training, rural and community development and health.