Bicol Region vows to strengthen gender programs in 1st GAD Focal Point System Assembly

Herstory unfolds as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region V and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) hold the first Bicol Region Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point System (GFPS) Assembly this July 29 to July 30, 2019 at the Regional Development Council Hall in Legazpi City.

With the theme “Strengthening Regional and Local Mechanisms on GAD Mainstreaming,” over 100 delegates from twenty-three regional line agencies, seven local government units, and four state universities and colleges in the region are in attendance, vowing stronger GFPS monitoring and enforcement.

In her opening remarks, PCW Deputy Executive Director for Operations, Maria Kristine Josefina G. Balmes, highlighted the responsibility of GFPS members in implementing the Magna Carta of Women or MCW (RA 9710) down to the barangay level, so that more women in the grassroots can benefit.

“I encourage everyone to network with their fellow GFPS members as potential partners and technical assistance resource providers at the regional and local levels. PCW will continue to work with the Regional GAD Committee (RGADC) to strengthen and sustain GAD efforts in the region,” Balmes said.

NEDA V Regional Director and RGADC Chairperson Agnes Espinas-Tolentino echoes Balmes’ statement saying, “I call on all duty bearers, particularly the GFPS members, to go beyond compliance and take with them information learned from the assembly to contribute to achieving regional and national development with a gender perspective.”

The assembly highlights lessons and good practices on gender mainstreaming. PCW Chief GAD Specialist, Nharleen Santos-Millar elaborated on gender mainstreaming (GM) as a strategy in implementing the MCW. PCW Senior GAD Specialist Lynx Hufancia laid down the guidelines for the creation, strengthening and institutionalization of the GFPS for different government bodies and units, as provided in PCW Memorandum Circular No. 2011-01, while women’s sector representative Aurora C. De Guzman of MALAYA KA, INC. discussed the functions and presented the accomplishments of RGADC5.

The assembly also tackled GAD-related concerns, including human rights, maternal mortality, women’s participation in the 2019 elections, gender issues in disaster response, human trafficking, and migration. Capping the event is a discussion of next steps in implementing gender mainstreaming in the region to be facilitated by NEDA V Assistant Regional Director Edna Cynthia S. Berces and DILG Camarines Sur Local Government Operations Officer V Coniefer B. Codia.

GAD Focal Point System

The creation of Focal Points for Women’s Concerns in government agencies started with the issuance of Executive Order 348, s. 1989 which mandated all government agencies to implement the 1st Philippine Development Plan for Women (1989 to 1992).

The said mechanism was given a boost two decades after in 2009, when the MCW directed all government instrumentalities to adopt gender mainstreaming as a strategy to promote women’s human rights and eliminate gender discrimination in their systems, structures, policies, programs, processes, and procedures. To facilitate such, government offices were tasked to establish or strengthen their GFPS or a similar mechanism. 

In 2011, PCW issued Memorandum Circular 2011-01 which provides for the guidelines in the creation, strengthening, and institutionalization of the GFPS. The Commission also convened several national and regional GFPS assemblies to facilitate and strengthen coordination of GAD efforts among offices.

While milestones have been achieved three decades since its inception, the GFPS at the national, regional, and local levels still face challenges in mainstreaming GAD in their respective sectors and localities. The Commission encourages agencies to develop GAD capacity development programs that support continuing gender education, including gender sensitivity, gender analysis, gender-responsive planning, budgeting and gender audit.

The PCW continues to provide policy guidance and technical assistance for government offices and regional mechanisms to ensure that their GAD budgets are used for programs, projects, and activities that address women’s concerns and gender-based inequities, and implement GAD-related policy mandates.