The implementation of the GREAT Women Project (GWP) in Barugo, Leyte has shown that partnership and collaboration between a local government unit and a women’s social foundation can open up opportunities for the development of women-led enterprises.
Barugo, Leyte is primarily engaged in agriculture, fishing and the export of tuba (coconut wine). The Barugo LGU has been actively working with its NGO partner, the Runggiyan Social Development Foundation, on capability building projects for women entrepreneurs and other local development initiatives even before the GWP. Their partnership began in 2004 with the initial development of women-led roscas (local cookies) production. Other than organizing the women entrepreneurs, the partners did not undertake any other common activity to further push women economic empowerment in the municipality. The project, however, encouraged the Barugo LGU to look more closely into the situation of women micro-entrepreneurs.
In 2006, Barugo went through some capability-building activities on Gender-Responsive and Results Based Budgeting, including a Gender Analysis of Agricultural Sector Programs and Policies. In 2007, an assessment was made on how gender sensitive Barugo was based on the GeRL Ka Ba? tool. The LGU then conducted a gender appraisal forum, in time for the entry of the GWP. Runggiyan Social Development Foundation prepared the project proposal on the GWP in Leyte, and shared its women economic empowerment initiatives with the Provincial Technical Working Group.
The Barugo and Runggiyan Social Development Foundation partnership under the GWP has presented a number of results:
Barugo now has a draft GAD Code and has increased its budgetary allocation for gender-related activities from a mere P20,000 in 2006 to P4.5 million in 2010. This came as a result of the Gender Sensitivity Training of local chief executives where they came to appreciate the importance of WEE.
Likewise, although Gender and Development initiatives were already being undertaken in the municipality even before the GWP, it was only during the start of GWP implementation in 2008 that more local officials and municipal employees took part in mobilizing people to create a more conducive environment for women micro-entrepreneurs. A gender sensitivity training was conducted for women legislators, local chief executives, local policymakers (the Sangguniang Bayan), municipal government employees and other administrative staff. There was a corresponding enhancement of the skills of the Gender and Development Technical Working Group in identifying gender issues, planning by using tools and results of assessment, and results-based budgeting. There was substantial improvement in gender awareness among LGU staff . where 95% underwent gender sensitivity training. People’s organizations and non-government organizations participated more actively in the process of developing the Annual Investment Plan.
Barugo has engendered systems and structures that make conditions favorable for women, especially those in micro-enterprises. It streamlined business permit application and licensing to a 15-minute-long process, and established a special lane at the Treasurer’s Office for senior citizens and pregnant women. Policewomen were assigned to Barugo Women and Children Police Desk. Barugo has also secured the commitment of DTI and DOLE to support livelihood projects. To assist women entrepreneurs, the LGU facilitated the establishment of the Barugo Retailers and Entrepreneurs Association for Development.
Through the GWP, Barugo and Runggiyan organized a Women Economic Empowerment Consultative Conference to create a mechanism for women entrepreneurs’ participation in governance and women economic empowerment. The conference, which was facilitated by Runggaiyan, oriented WMEs on the GWP, generated a preliminary profile of existing micro-enterprises owned and managed by women, and identified gender and entrepreneurial issues encountered by women in business.
As a result of the WEE Consultative Conference, the LGU drew up an economic map indicating the location of entrepreneurs, the number of entrepreneurs in each location, and the government and private services that entrepreneurs can access not only in their respective businesses but also from their homes. The conference also led to the LGU’s partnership with other national government agencies for women, as well as to the movement to set up a People’s Economic Enterprise Center. This Center intends to provide enterprise development trainings for women micro-entrepreneurs and other interested sectors.
Prepared by Mayor Alden M. Avestruz, Barugo, Leyte and Ms. Pauline Lawsin-Nayra, Executive Director, Runggiyan Social Development Foundation