With fellow women legislators and women’s rights advocates as co-authors, Minority Floor Leader Atty.Laisa Masuhud Alamia has filed a bill that seeks to establish a women’s caucus in the Bangsamoro Parliament.

“Running for and surviving in [public] office has always been daunting for women, as we face discrimination and beliefs that tend to limit our societal roles,” Alamia says in the bill’s explanatory note. “With the need for a more equitable representation for women in Parliament, it becomes all  the more important to nurture and encourage the presence of women in key decision-making spaces.”

The women’s caucus shall consolidate representation for women’s issues, develop and sharpen a legislative agenda tackling issues primarily concerning women, gender equality, and gender development while building and mobilizing political consensus among Members of Parliament to pass laws on such matters.

Through this bill, Alamia hopes to advance women’s issues and encourage women’s presence in decision-making, especially within the Parliament, as they work together in the elimination of any gender-based distinction, exclusion, or restriction.

Key provisions of the bill include the formulation of a Women’s Legislative Agenda. The said agenda shall list bills that respond primarily to issues concerning women, gender equality, and gender development, as well as other issues that may be raised within the caucus. All women members of the Parliament shall be deemed part of the caucus upon its constitution unless they file a request to be excluded from it.

Around the world, women’s representation in parliaments have steadily increased in the last 25 years. In 1995, women held 11.3% of seats in parliaments around the world. This figure had almost doubled in 2015, with women holding 22.1% of seats.

By the year 2020, women roughly held 25% — one out of four seats — in parliaments worldwide. However, the Bangsamoro parliament registers a significantly lower percentage, with only 16% of seats held by women.