GREAT Women Project Sponsors Regional Partners Fora for Women’s Empowerment

GREAT Women Project Sponsors Regional Partners Fora for Women’s Empowerment

Philippine Commission on Women-GREAT Women Project sponsored a Regional Partners’ Forum promoting an exchange of emerging models and good experiences in creating the national and local enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment.

The GREAT Women Project Regional Partners’ Forum was held on August 16-17 at the Apo View Park Hotel in Davao and on August 31-September 1 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila. Themed Making Women’s Economic Rights Real, the Regional Partners’ Forum also sought LGUs to share applicable lessons and possible project ideas for sustainability.

Key speakers were Women’s Business Council President Pacita Juan (Davao Forum), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo and Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Christopher Thornley (Manila Forum).

Women’s Business Council President Pacita Juan shared her expertise as a social entrepreneur and marketer supporting products made by local women. Also gracing the Partners’ Fora were officers from the Canadian International Development Agency Head of Aid May Wong and Senior Programme Officer Myrna Jarillas.

In his Manila address, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Christopher Thornley encouraged GREAT Women Project partners to “draw from their respective experiences and share them so that not only individual businesses and communities can grow, but then can also contribute to the competitiveness of the Philippine economy.” He mentioned the importance of “breeding success” from emerging models of women’s empowerment in GREAT Women Project sites.

“We hope to revolutionize their (women entrepreneurs’) way of thinking and mobilize them to become empowered in their own right,“ DILG Secretary Robredo said during the Manila Forum. He was optimistic that the Partners’ Forum “would ignite a stronger commitment (for women’s empowerment) among local government officials, gender focal persons, development partners, national government agencies, non-government organizations, civil society and local communities.”

While in the Davao Forum, DILG Secretary Robredo addressed LGU partners, saying that “What you are doing now (for the GREAT Women Project) will illustrate that (gender-responsive) process is important because it makes the outcomes permanent.” He later added that the “outcomes (in women’s economic empowerment) demonstrate the capacities that were built with the GREAT Women Project.”

The Regional Partners’ Forum in Davao encouraged cross-learning among partners from Metro Naga, Quezon, Davao and PPALMA Alliance in North Cotabato. Meanwhile, the Regional Partners Forum in Manila spurred cross-learning among partners from Bohol, Iloilo, Leyte, Quezon, Ifugao and Metro Naga.

Among session presentations in the Davao Forum were The Role of the LGU in the Organization and Strengthening of CCPAG (Cristeta Chica of Gainza, Camarines Sur), Enhancing the Gender and WEE-Responsiveness of a Flagship Program (Maria Theresa Ypil, PopCom Officer, Davao del Sur), Barangay Grow Negosyo! Growing Opportunity for Wealth: Gaining Headway for Barangay Microenterprise Development in Naga City (Michael Rico of MNDC), Environment and Social Management Guidelines (Katherine Vinegas of PCW), Creating Enabling Environment in Bamboo Industry and Food Sufficiency (Bula Mayor Benjamin Decena), Application of GA Tools in Legislating for Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Gender Responsive Revenue Code of Infanta (Infanta Mayor Filipina Grace America), Use of Data in the Preparation of Gender Responsive Barangay Development Plan (Milaor Mayor Rogelio Flores), Real GREAT Efforts in WEE (Gerardo Gabin of Real, Quezon). During plenary sharing, PhilHealth Senior Manager Oscar Abadu presented its Policy on the Partial Subsidy Scheme for Microenterprises, while DOST shared its experience in the Implementation of GREAT Women Project in Camarines Sur.

Session presentations in the Manila Forum were JASMED: Localizing Government Commitment to Women Microentrepreneurs in Jagna, Bohol (Jagna Mayor Fortunato Abrenilla and Jagna Sangguniang Bayan Nimfa Lloren), Participatory and Gender Responsive Local Governance: The Case of Pavia, Iloilo (Pavia Entrepreneurs Multi-Purpose Cooperative Manager Joy Palmada), Gender-Responsive Local Economic Governance: Creating and Sustaining an Enabling Environment for Women’s Economic Empowerment (Tanauan Mayor Agapito Pagayanan, Jr.) and Environment and Social Management Guidelines (Katherine Vinegas of PCW), Role of LGU Balilihan in Strengthening the Balilihan Association of Women for Development (Vice-Mayor Efren Chatto), Facilitating the Local Enabling Environment: Convergence Towards Women’s Economic Empowerment for Roscas Producers (Barugo Mayor Alden Avestruz), Perspective and Reflection of a Woman Micro-entrepreneur: The Need to Embrace Change (Jagna WME Mariebel Bucog), and Iloilo Provincial Government Support to LGUs (GWP Focal Person Alma Ravena). During plenary sessions, the Manila Forum featured Quezon’s replication efforts reported by Ofelia Palayan, discussion on the DOST SET UP Program by Assistant Secretary Lourdes Orijola and PhilHealth’s Partial Subsidy Scheme presentation by Senior Manager Walter Bacareza.

“With the GREAT Women Project in the LGU, our products were given attention and we were able to have more outlets to market our products,” woman microentrepreneur Cyril Tamon said as she credited the growth of her enterprise to the GREAT Women Project and to the convergence of NGAs and LGUs.

Tamon’s group of ceramics-makers, MASEPRA, benefits from a common service facility established by the LGU and from WEE services provided by such national government agencies as the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Technology Education and Skills Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the GREAT Women Project.