To be a woman in these times is both a blessing and a burden. While some of us find empowerment in our communities, so many others are constantly silenced. While some of us find strength and confidence in a collective identity, so many others are oppressed and discriminated against

For women in the Bangsamoro, the ongoing political transition is an opportunity to collectively assert our rights as women as we take part in building a region that is a reflection of our highest aspirations. We must unite across all sectors and at all levels, as we participate in personal and political affairs and claim the space that is rightfully ours.

The region has always carried the weight of chronic poverty and protracted displacement, and this weight is placed squarely on our shoulders as women who share in the struggle of our people. We care for our families while we earn a living, we raise our children as while we cultivate the land, we claim our rights as women while we fight for self-determination for our people. 

In the Bangsamoro Parliament, women have taken the lead in addressing these interlocking struggles. We have pushed and advocated for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission, and have filed a bill that recognizes the rights and needs of internally displaced persons. We have mobilized resources and gathered support for livelihood efforts that directly benefit women and, by extension, their families and communities.

To collectively assert our rights does not mean to shed our differences for the sake of community. Rather, it means to recognize what makes us different — to extend our hand in solidarity in another’s moment of weakness, and to uplift each other in sisterhood in times of strength. It also means to find our own voice when we are being silenced, and to know that in speaking our truth we remind other women that they are not alone.

The time for us to find our voice and claim our space stretches far beyond the celebration of women’s month. Our struggle is one that we wage every day, and can only be won in our collective strength.