In this male dominated world, women have long been regarded as non-threatening, especially in the field of peace building. Although Mindanao has learned the lesson that this is a myth for some people (as evidenced by the Maguindanao Massacre where the victims were mostly women), women are still considered as an important ingredient to success in any peace building process. Thus, the newly constituted panel for the government in its talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is now fortified by two important women – UP Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Yasmin Busran Lao. These two soft spoken women infuse the needed patience and charisma in an otherwise world of short-tempered and gruff men. Miriam Ferrer is a UP professor while Yasmin Lao is a Gender and Women’s concern consultant from Marawi City. Yasmin has extensive experience in gender advocacy.
There are local counterparts of Miriam and Yasmin who work hard to make this world a better place for us women. Just recently, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation gave an award to a female professor of Notre Dame University – Estrella Cantallopez – for her work in peace building particularly in local communities of the region. There are others like her whose work impact on peace building, like Cong. Nancy Catamco who champions the rights of indigenous tribes in Cotabato; Ofelia Durante who concentrates on peace education; Merlinda Hussein, Lala Talino Mendoza, and Cynthia Guiani Sayadi who found their niche in improving local governance; Bainon Karon and Pombaen Kader who works for the welfare of the marginalized; Dolores Daguino, Nida Rodriguez, and Norma Gomez who do research on peace; Susan Anayatin and Norma Oro who are active in enterprise development. Dipsy Maruhom is more on women’s concern among Maranaos, while Mariam Mohamad Daud (the daughter of Mufti Mohamad Pasigan) and Maleja Daud are into women’s health. We also would not want to miss the presence of Mariam Pahm, Ma. Teresa Mohamad, Myrna Lim, and Cecile Camello Barroga in any educational consultation; nor that of Sandra Basar, Vicky Franco, and Ma. Leofe Drapper Lu in business. Of course, we shouldn’t forget the women we featured in Tapatan this month of March – Bai Fatima Sinsuat, Ms. Enedina Cacabelos, Bai Sandra Sema, and Dr. Helen Yambao who took time out of their busy schedule to accommodate us.
What do these women have in common? We can cite their strong compassion for others, and a will to push through their goal despite all cost. Another factor is their never ending desire to learn. Education figured prominently in the life of successful women. We also noticed that they have mothers who have inspired and influenced them to become what they are now. It has become a tradition that strong women beget strong daughters. It is therefore sad to note that the economy has forced many women to leave their families to become OFWs, depriving future women leaders from being nurtured by their mothers.
What can we learn from these women? Although they have successfully overcome the obstacles that values and tradition have placed their way, they still feel that women are there to complement the work of men, not to compete with men. Women are endowed with special talents and capabilities that many men do not have – a sensitive nature, a nurturing attitude, a charisma to produce results, not to mention a big heart for the disadvantaged. These are what contribute to women power in this region. These are what many of them want to be remembered. (Eva K. Tan)
Women’s Thoughts on the Delicate Task of Peace Building
With peace as the buzz word this season, we want to stress the importance of the role of women in peace building. We are therefore presenting the thoughts of women who are concerned with the outcome of the peace process, and what their recommendations are in handling the delicate task of peace building.
The days of stereo typing women to the four corners of the home mending the needs of children and doing domestic duties for the household may now be relegated to the past. Although, it must be admitted that there are still much work to be done to address issues in totally advancing women’s rights and protection, there are records which shows that progress has also been accomplished. Another aspect where the critical voice of the women sector must be further championed is in the area of peace building campaign and related activities.
There is sufficient evidence around the world whereby the peace building advocacies has been shepherded by women. Former president Corazon Aquino initiated the resumption of peace talks with the MNLF after the 1986 EDSA People Power. In Burma Aung Sun Su-Kyi is a Novel Peace Laureate recipient for her non-violent protest actions against the military regime of that country. The former and current Secretaries of State of the US, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton are diplomats that advocate peaceful solutions to conflict, particularly in handling the complex and tense Middle East region of the world.
These women are but a few of the many important, significant, influential and success stories who can be called peace builders. They should be emulated by every local and international peace stakeholder.
Nowadays, a lot of people have been involving themselves in peace building movements and other post conflict reconstructions in many parts of the world where insurgencies happen. These people include women--women who are sensitive enough of their surroundings, women who are caring enough to look after the needs of people they barely know, and women who are brave enough to face the dangers of immersing themselves in conflict affected areas. And why do we keep on trusting women in comforting the people trapped in a war torn place? In convincing our society that peace is the ultimate solution? To me, it is pretty undeniable that a woman's voice, though sweet as it can be, is the most persuasive. We all listen to our mothers, don't we?
So I guess that is how women (and also men), should handle peace building. They should stay as soothing, as comforting, and as trustworthy. But also, they should be able to show the world that they are powerful and tough and that they, too, want this peace that they are trying to achieve.
JUDY L. GIGUIENTO
The elusiveness of peace is as indistinct as culture treats women empowerment. Firstly, I believe that peace must first be constructed within a woman’s self. A woman must realize that she has personal rights. When she recognizes these rights, this woman will learn and respect the rights of her children, her husband, and the members of her family. This knowledge of personal rights will spread out to the persons who are in the community. Her knowledge and understanding on these rights will be a source of her empowerment, which will be contributory to handle peace and build it to all persons in the community.
Secondly, following through the myth that women talk more than men, I think, communication should be more crafted to be managed by women. Talking to a child needs a lot of listening and patience which qualifies women. Putting their thoughts on FB or twitting their opinions and reactions or even texting messages must be done more responsibly. Why women? Because they are more sensitive, they have this 6th sense which wraps the mystic and make them more exciting to all men. Women can create peace in communicating and relating. These make women effective to partners in peace building! Peace to all.
MALU CADELIÑA MANAR
The task of building peace, especially in conflict areas, is not solely men’s task. Yet, so much reliance has been given to them. Even the national government is guilty of that. But as compared to men, women are more skilled when it comes to conflict resolution or managing feud. Women have ready ears to listen; enduring patience; and are more empathic than men.
But how should women handle the task? Women must deal with it with care. The task is so delicate that it needs precise action, attention, and should be studied carefully. Conflict arises because some of the stakeholders failed to give attention to details.
MYRNA JOCELYN HENRY
Let’s start within ourselves the task of peace building. If we are at peace with ourselves and our immediate families and surroundings, it immediately follows that we are building peace. We only need sincerity and commitment to share the task of peace building. We have our individual roles to play. Let's play that with fairness. Samahan na rin natin lagi (araw-araw) ng positive attitude and smile. We're building peace in our own little ways.