When WEE Sees through the Lens

Infanta, Quezon did not regard GAD and women economic empowerment (WEE) as priority concerns and the municipality did not have WEE policies to speak of. Through the GREAT Women Project (GWP) however, Infanta learned to use a “ WEE lens” to assess policy directions, the gender capability of officials and staff involved, mechanisms and structures, and programs, projects and activities in relation to gender. WEE was also made a basis for determining the strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-and-threats of the local economy.

Infanta, Quezon created a GWP-Municipal Technical Working Group/Strengthening of the Municipal GAD Council. It implemented GAD/WEE capacity development activities, such as Gender Sensitivity Training, Gender Analysis of LGU, GAD Code Formulation Orientation-Workshop, Formulating the WEE Roadmap, and GAD Planning and Budgeting Orientation-Workshop as means to fully immerse the municipality in women’s economic empowerment.

As LGU Officials, Sangguniang Bayan members and key people began to understand how WEE could be applied to governance, Infanta started adopting the following strategic governance measures: (1) formulation/enactment of the Infanta GAD Code, (2) review and enhancement of the Revenue Code, (3) enhancement of the Infanta Sustainable Agriculture and Fishery Program, (4) inclusion of the Gender Responsive Enterprise Development Program in the Annual Investment Plan, and (5) increasing budget allocation for GAD.

The Infanta GAD Code now includes provisions that allow partnership with organizations and groups providing microfinance. Likewise, the Code provides for rural enterprise development and institution building services; the simplification of business licensing procedures; granting of exemptions in the payment of fees; and inclusion of social security and protection for workers and employees.

The Revenue Code was enhanced through the review of administrative procedures, tax brackets, and local priorities as bases for providing exemptions and incentives. The Revenue Code now contains provisions that map out sectors where the women are, and impose higher fees on enterprises which have environmental and social cost.

Likewise, in response to the need for gender-disaggregated data, the Infanta Sustainable Agriculture and Fishery Program has been revised based on a platform of a sex-disaggregated database. More importantly, Infanta’s allocation for GAD quadrupled within four years, from P1.2 million in 2006 to P4.51 million in 2009.

In the course of implementing GWP, Infanta also learned the following important lessons on how to push women economic empowerment and sustain it: First, the ‘true driver’ of the local economy and the ‘true driver’ in motivating WEE and project implementation buy-in must both be determined. Second, continued capacity development of the LGU is needed. Third, in order to raise the level of WEE involvement in the municipality, more champions of WEE must be developed from among local chief executives, legislative body and heads of offices. Fourth, the formulation of WEE policies must be a participatory process.

Written by:
Armida Marquez, HRMO IV and Focal Person for GWP