Integrating WEE: The GREAT Women Project Experience in Buenavista, Bohol
Mainstreaming gender at the local level becomes a reality when key local plans such as the Annual Investment Plan and comprehensive local plans are infused with gender and women economic empowerment (WEE) perspectives through a participatory process. Buenavista, Bohol used as its main entry point to mainstreaming gender the introduction of gender and WEE in local strategic plans.
With the implementation of the Great Women Project (GWP) in 2009, the municipality started the participatory process and instituted changes in the focus of the Annual Investment Plan and comprehensive development plan. It began assessing the local governance context on which to build women economic empowerment. Their findings showed that: (1) the formulation of their LGU Budget and Annual Investment Plan had to be participatory; (2) there was a need for a local economic development plan; (3) significant inclusions concerning local economic development and women economic development had to be made in local plans, programs and activities; and (4) there was a need to revisit the Annual Investment Plan budget which favored infrastructure and routinary LGU activities. Buenavista also had to contend with conditions that were not conducive to WEE, such as the absence of big commercial establishments and an intensive tax collection system. On the other hand, WEE could benefit from the presence of gender-supportive local chief executives, an LGU that could bridge NGAs and NGOs and a strong women’s group in the locality.
Buenavista started the process of engenderizing local plans by holding a women’s economic empowerment forum and directly using the forum findings in the Comprehensive Development Plan writeshop to address gender issues. It also reviewed the Executive Legislative Agenda and then conducted a series of consultations and workshops for the assessment of LGU performance for 2009 and the formulation of the 2010 Annual Investment Plan.
With the consistent support and guidance of the GWP, Buenavista was able to mainstream gender and women’s economic empowerment by integrating the 2010 GAD Plan and Budget and other WEE-responsive programs into the Annual Investment Plan. It highlighted the importance of providing capacity development for women micro-entrepreneurs on product development, market linkaging and promotion.
Buenavista’s experience in crafting a gender-responsive Annual Investment Plan strengthened the capacity of the municipality to formulate gender-responsive plans and policies, generated a stronger interest to review and enhance the gender-responsiveness of their plans and policies, and brought about a revitalized synergy of NGAs, NGOs and other partners.
Efren Logrono, MPDC and Focal Person for GWP