“Women and gender issues in the autonomous region continue to be underrepresented and unresolved,” Deputy Speaker MP Laisa Alamia said to women journalists in the Bangsamoro during a training program last October 18-21 at the EM Manor Hotel and Convention Center in Cotabato City.

With the theme “Strengthening the Visibility of Gender in Reporting the Bangsamoro,” the said training program was facilitated by the Mindanao Institute of Journalism (MinJourn), with the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Jakarta.

Participants of the program include journalists from GMA 7, Manila Bulletin, Net 25, Philippine Daily Inquirer, DXMG Radyo Bisdak, DXMM Magnet FM, Kutangbato News, and Tawi-Tawi Communication Network.

MP Alamia discussed women’s role in the Bangsamoro as changemakers as she tackled leaderhip and political representation in the Bangsamoro.

“My job has always involved getting our voices heard as women and why it matters,” she said. “So often our problems as women are dismissed as too narrow and specific, and are relegated to the sidelines in favor of supposedly ‘more pressing’ concerns.” This mindset needs to change, MP Alamia stressed, and that “women need to be represented so that matters like this will be taken seriously.”

“If we want to address exclusion and improve mechanisms for fair representation, we can do this now because BARMM is a region in transition,” she stressed.

She enumerated initiatives for women empowerment and representation that her office has been pursuing in the Bangsamoro Parliament. This includes filing a Women’s Caucus Bill which gathers women parliamentarians in the Bangsamoro Parliament and provides a platform for consolidation and cooperation to build a consensus on gender issues in a way that transcends political divides.

She also noted gender responsive provisions in bills she filed as part of a suite specifically referencing transitional justice and reconciliation in the Bangsamoro. This includes the Internally Displaced Persons’ Rights Bill and a bill establishing a Regional Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission in the Bangsamoro.

“Women’s political representation means women get an equal chance to shape and influence public decisions,” MP Alamia said, and stressed that “gender equality is in fact conducive to peace and development.”

“Women are changemakers,” she said, “and Bangsamoro women have and will continue to prove this.”