The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is a manifestation of our right to self-determination as people of the Bangsamoro – a right we assert as we fight for social justice and social progress. As the world commemorates the World Day of Social Justice, we take pride in the gains we have won by remaining steadfast in our commitment to peace and justice.

But today is also a day for us to account for what remains to be done. The regional government is a representation of the people’s highest hopes and aspirations, and it is our duty as public servants to represent the people’s interests, and advocate for equal protection and full realization of their rights and freedoms.

“Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment,” this year’s theme for the World Day of Social Justice, is especially relevant to the Bangsamoro. While it is difficult to track informal economies and address the risks they entail, current available data suggest that the informal sector of our regional economy has been significantly hit by the pandemic, and many of those affected are women.

History shows us that women are often among those who bear the brunt of social and economic pitfalls, and the pandemic’s effects on our economy are no different. A disproportionate number of those in the informal economy are women. Many of them are heads of single-parent households and, therefore, have less access to social protections. The Office of the Minority Floor Leader has consistently advocated for their rights by pushing for legislation that responds to their primary and most urgent needs such as socioeconomic support, social protections, and avenues for transitional justice, especially in the region’s post-conflict context.

In establishing the BARMM, we have already taken one of the most important steps towards a better future for the Bangsamoro. As we move forward in the region’s political transition, it is imperative that we account for the needs of the most vulnerable among us. Social justice is at the heart of the Bangsamoro’s struggle for self-determination, and it can only be realized in a just and equitable society for all.