Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Mindanao women hold peace summit

Mindanao women hold peace summit

Over 100 women leaders from all over Mindanao recently converged at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City for the Mindanao Women's Peace Summit. Dubbed "If Women Negotiated the Peace Agreement," the summit was highlighted by the adoption of a position paper for the peace negotiation panels of the Philippine government (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Organised by the Mindanao Commission on Women (MCW), with support from the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the summit was aimed at bringing the voices of women of Mindanao into the ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the MILF.

Monina Andik-Lumenda, a survivor of war and internal displacement, gave an experiential and reflective talk addressing the peace issue in Mindanao.

Ambassadors Annika Markovic of Sweden and Tony Hely of Australia delivered their messages of support for the peace summit.

The peace summit was the culminating activity of a six-month project which included community consultations organised by MCW among Moro and indigenous peoples women in conflict-affected areas in Cotabato City, Kapatagan, Iligan City, Marawi City, Kabacan, Basilan and Jolo. The consultations encouraged women members and supporters of the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front to air their views on the peace process.

According to MCW Chair Irene M. Santiago, the summit was premised on the principle that the participation of women in the post peace agreement period is critical if peace and development are to be attained and sustained.

“It is very important that the GRP and MILF peace negotiating panels listen to the recommendations of women, especially from the conflict-affected areas, about what should be included in the peace agreement to ensure that women benefit from and participate in the post peace agreement scenario,”Santiago emphasised.

The summit also included workshops on poverty reduction, peace and multiculturalism, and politics and governance, as well as the launching of the “Mindanao Rising! Movement”.

MCW Information Director GeeJay Arriola said the “Mindanao Rising! Movement” is a two-year campaign that will promote human security through a vision of a healthy and educated people that governs an economically sustainable, politically stable, ecologically balanced, multicultural Mindanao.

“The campaign is founded on three principles: Mindanao as a united and synergised people, asserting its rightful place in the country as a self-determining, peaceful region; Mindanao as wealth-creating and culturally and economically productive, its wealth and productivity shared equitably; and Mindanao as every Mindanawon’s personal responsibility, in a collective journey of transformation,” Arriola explained.

Australia’s support to the Mindanao Commission on Women and its initiatives to empower women to enable them to actively participate in the peace and development process in Mindanao is part of Australia’s development cooperation with the Philippines. AusAID has been a major partner of MCW since 2002 and has supported a number of activities in the areas of governance, peace and multiculturalism, poverty reduction, and the publication of the annual State of the Women of Mindanao reports. Australian aid to the Philippines ensures that men and women play an equal role and equitably reap the benefits of development. (Rolly Inciong)

6 March 2006