GREAT Women Project hosts multi-sectoral Partners’ Forum to advance women’s economic empowerment

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) sponsored a two-day Partners’ Forum of the GREAT Women Project last February 9-10 at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila in Ortigas Center, Quezon City. The Partners’ Forum themed Patnership and Synergy Towards A GREATer Philippines gathered 246 participants from 12 national government agencies, local government representatives from six partner provinces and two alliances, and more than a dozen non-government organizations who are collectively advancing women’s economic empowerment.

The GREAT Women Project is a five-year (2007-2012) capacity development and governance project for women’s economic empowerment (WEE) supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The GREAT Women Project supports the development of an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment (WEE), particularly supporting women microentrepreneurs and women workers in enterprises. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the national machinery for the advancement of women, is the lead implementing agency of the Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women) Project. 

The Partners’ Forum provided opportunity to share knowledge and emerging good practices on WEE at the national and local levels and forge partnerships with GREAT Women Project stakeholders.

In her welcome speech, Philippine Commission on Women Myrna Yao said that as the GREAT Women Project develops capacities for gender-responsive governance at the national and local levels, the “continuing challenge is to ensure that transformation in policies, programs and projects benefit women in local communities.”

GREAT Women Project Manager Luvy Villanueva emphasized that it makes “good economic sense” to support women microenterpreneurs, because more women microentrepreneurs lessen government expenditure on welfare support, sustained microenterprises generate income, revenue and jobs, and a growing microenterprise sector attracts more business to an area. CIDA Head of Aid Laurenne Garneau reaffirmed its commitment to support the GREAT Women Project, after noting that the GREAT Women Project has shown a diversity in emerging results and is on its way to sustainability. She mentioned that the Project is seeing “the beginning of many successful cases that can be shared to other LGUs on how paying particular attention to the needs and capabilities of women can be strategic entry points for more people-focused economic development.”

In her keynote address, Usec. Carissa “Merly” Cruz of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Regional Operations and Development Group stressed that local governments need to play a stronger role in business promotion and development, particularly in the creation of a good business environment, by harnessing local government and private sector partnerships, engaging local chief executives as active planners and managers in MSME development, and enhancing business competitiveness through gender mainstreaming.