In response to the needs of Bangsamoro women as the pandemic continues, the Office of MP Atty.Laisa Masuhud Alamia organized a series of in-person events in select municipalities of Basilan, scheduled all throughout the month of March.

Thirty women weavers based in the city of Lamitan participated in the first event held on National Women’s Day, March 8. Said event featured a discussion of basic principles behind women’s rights, facilitated by Atty. Alman-Najar Namla of the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission, and a seminar on financial literacy and entrepreneurship handled by Ric Mathew Garcia of the Department of Trade and Industry-Region IX.

In his discussion of women’s rights, Atty. Namla highlighted how Philippine laws are among the most progressive when it comes to women’s rights. The 1987 Philippine Constitution in Section 14, Article II “recognizes the role of women in nation building and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.” He also noted international conventions and treaties which the Philippines is party to, as part of the state’s commitment to women’s rights and protections.

However, he also pointed out how these legal instruments may also fail to serve their purpose if some of the loopholes of these laws are left unaddressed and implementation of current laws protecting women’s rights falls short.

The Bangsamoro Organic Law itself has provisions that highlight the need to focus on women’s rights. Under the section on social justice, the regional government is mandated to ensure the participation of women in the Bangsamoro Government and to “uphold and protect the fundamental rights of women, including the right ato engage in lawful employment, and to be protected from exploitation, abuse, or discrimination.”

Following the discussion of women’s rights, Mr. Garcia emphasized the need to break gender stereotypes and encourage women to take on a more active role not only in the management of the family’s day-to-day expenses, but also in growing a business and making financial investments. He stressed the need to avoid things that only offer “instant gratification” and consider getting assets that grow over time apart from the usual practice of choosing needs over wants when it comes to spending.

Also present in the event to give words of support is Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay who noted how events anchored on the National Women’s Month “highlights the extraordinary role of women in society,” which is all the more important given how “different” this year is. 

“But as always, women prove that they do not surrender easily to challenges,” she said, “as we continue to show our strength despite the pandemic.”