By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Members of different women’s groups and organization as well as individuals under the banner of Innabuyog-Gabriela in the Cordillera region formulated the women’s agenda which serve as their criteria in choosing and supporting candidates and political parties for the May 13 national and local elections.
The Cordillera Women’s Agenda contains the key points in advancing the women’s struggles for land, food and rights in their vision of good governance and politics of change.
At least 200 attended the women’s summit held at the multipurpose hall of the Cathedral of the Resurrection – Episcopal Diocese of the Northern Philippines (EDNCP) in Baguio City. It coincided with the 103rd commemoration of March 8 as the International Working Women’s Day (IWWD).
The women’s agenda was a product of workshop groups on the issues confronting women.
On food security and environment sustainability of indigenous women and our commitments, the delegates declared that the control and utilization of the land and natural resources should be in the hands of the communities and not to be sold by the government to corporations and to the powerful people. The women rejected large, corporate and profit-oriented projects which they said violate the rights of indigenous peoples and communities.
The women stated that promotion and enhancement of the initiatives and viable practices of communities employing indigenous practices on the management of agriculture, forestry and natural resources should be included in the agenda of candidates and political parties.
Also included in the agenda is the focus on the job and equal economic opportunities for women. The group pointed out that employment chances should not mean the sending of women overseas as slaves. They stated that the government should prioritize its support for sustainable jobs. They challenged soon-to-be elected officials to not allow local and foreign corporations who only take advantage of cheap labor in export processing and commercial zones in the Cordillera for contractual jobs and do not provide benefits to the workers.
They also urged candidates to ensure that livelihood projects of the government would not be another source of corruption and a waste of budget. They added that livelihood projects of women should not be allowed to be devoured by big businesses.
Regarding women’s access to social services, the groups added that a higher budget should be allocated to health, education and welfare and these services should be readily accessible, affordable and available. This, according to them, would reduce the morbidity, mortality, illiteracy and disempowerment of women and their families. They also called for a stop to privatization of public social services.
The women’s group included in the agenda the protection of women from all forms of violence. They said a reduction in the number of cases of violence against women and children should be seriously worked out.
They also challenged elected officials to uphold and respect the rights of lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgendered (LGBT). They called for the prevention of the suppression of the rights of the LGBT.
The group also called on elected officials to demand justice for victims of human rights violations especially women victims. They stated that the officials when in power should not allow the encampment of military troops in the communities and especially schools, daycare centers, barangay halls and clinics and other public buildings.
They also called for the delivery of support services to militarized communities.
The women declared that politicians and political parties who want to get the votes of women must seriously consider their just demands. (By Northern Dispatch / Reposted by )