Girls around the world have been working hard to overcome barriers that have been in place for generations as they fight for equality and empowerment in their communities. Despite global efforts, we are yet to achieve gender equality that comes with eliminating all forms of discrimination against girls.

This year, the International Day of the Girl Child commemorates the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), with five-year commitments set in place with the help of civil society leaders, governments, and changemakers for bold gender equality impacts. As part of her consistent efforts to uphold gender equality, Minority Floor Leader MP Atty. Laisa Alamia joined a global interactive dialogue as a panelist in Justice for Women and Girls: Galvanizing Action for an Equal Future, an event in support of the Generation Equality Forum that was organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), UN Women, the World Bank and the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies.

Here in the Philippines, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges as it hampers girls’ learning and disrupts livelihoods that support girls’ needs, given the gaps in access to digital technologies. These inequalities feed into a gender divide that spans generations, and working towards gender equality must be done both offline and online.

In the Bangsmaoro, empowering women and girls by promoting gender equality is integral to protecting and upholding the gains we have achieved through the peace process. Securing the rights of women and girls, especially in conflict-affected areas, is essential in ensuring just and lasting peace in the region. Ending all forms of discrimination does not only benefit women and girls, but also uplifts entire communities across all development areas.

The regional government has taken concrete steps towards gender equality, including the adoption of a Regional Action Plan (RAP) on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and making commitments to uphold the rights and welfare of children on the issue of child marriages. In this time of political transition, we must be consistent in our support for women and girls and continue to amplify their voices in every issue and concern, uphold their rights in every program and policy, and provide opportunities for their participation and leadership in every step we take towards the future of the Bangsamoro.