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The roles and impact of women peacekeepers |


The roles and impact of women peacekeepers

Jing Castañeda -
The roles and impact of women peacekeepers
The National Consultation of the PEACE-NAPWPS where Oxfam Pilipinas and other organizations put forward the voices of women and other marginalized groups that are affected by armed conflicts.

We often hear the terms “peace and security” as issues of national significance. But many are not fully aware what it would entail to achieve these. Or that everyone, especially the vulnerable groups, women and the youth included, actually have roles to play in attaining it.  

My years as a journalist exposed me to various social issues happening worldwide, how women and girls have time and again become victims of violence, specifically physical and sexual, in armed conflicts. I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of gender-based violence in vulnerable areas in our country. I also came to know that Muslim communities in Mindanao experience countless attacks and conflicts which greatly harm the safety and well-being of women and young girls in the community. 

In a recent episode of Pamilya Talk, I spoke to esteemed women who have been leading the fight towards gender-responsive, culture-sensitive, inclusive and socially-accountable national agenda on women, peace, and security. In our interview, we discussed the challenges faced by the vulnerable sectors in our society and what their respective organizations are doing to promote peace and social healing. 

Oxfam Pilipinas has been undertaking development and humanitarian work in the Philippines for over 30 years, says its executive director Erica Geronimo. “Oxfam’s vision is a world where everyone’s future is equal, where every citizen enjoys their rights and is empowered to influence decisions that affect them.” 

While strides have been made towards achieving gender justice (or “the full equality between women and men in all spheres of life”), it remains elusive for many, says Geronimo. 

“Marami pa ring inequalities, kaya mahalagang-mahalaga na pinapantay natin ang boses at interes ng mga kababaihan at ibang vulnerable at marginalized groups sa civic space,” she adds. “[Mahalaga ito] sa paglalatag ng policies, laws at governance na nakakaapekto sa kanila.”

Oxfam Pilipinas with women’s rights groups and Atty. Lanang Ali, Majority Floor Leader of the Bangsamoro Parliament, in a meeting regarding the Bangsamoro Electoral Code.

Thus, aside from its humanitarian responses, Oxfam also works at empowering women by capacitating them with knowledge and skills and by giving them space to be able to participate in the governance structures of BARMM and local government units to push for their economic and peace agenda. 

Noraida Abo, executive director of United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women), says women have been playing significant roles in peace-keeping efforts. They serve to raise awareness on gender-based violence and to strengthen collaboration with the local government and peace actors. During armed conflicts, women participate in the Early Warning & Early Response Mechanism (EWER), responding to and submitting documented cases of gender-based violence. However, the “culture of silence” continues to pervade on many occasions. Instead of being encouraged to respond, the oppressed group is forced to stay silent, says Abo. Structural violence, also referred to as social injustice, causes discrimination and hinders the development of women and children in communities.

25 officials from Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao participated in a workshop on ensuring the safety of women in calamities and armed conflicts.

The Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute, which was established in 1991, has been helping to ensure that ordinary people have a voice in peace processes and negotiation, says its executive director Karen Tañada. The group sees to it that there are enough policies to solve drivers of conflict such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination. “Sa tingin namin, hindi lang dapat gobyerno, hindi lang mga armed parties tulad ng CPP-NPA or MILF ang dapat na nag-uusap at naririnig kundi pati ang mamamayan,” she says. 

Tañada says Filipino women have definitely made inroads in peacekeeping. In fact, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was the first woman to sign a major peace negotiation.  Women are also now present in MILF peace panels, she adds. 

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), for its part, creates policies that ensure the equality and safety of women. “Sinisiguro rin namin na ang mga kababaihan ay may meaningful na participation dito dahil sila ang equally naaapektuhan dito kapag may kaguluhan at giyera,” says Deputy Executive Director for Operations Maria Kristine Josefina Balmes.

The Luzon leg of the participatory workshop and consultation as they assess the implementation of the 2017-2022 National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAPWPS).

PCW is responsible for providing technical assistance and monitoring programs and activities on women, peace, and security for the members of National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAPWPS). They also provide agencies with capacity development training on gender-sensitive conflict analysis.

Meanwhile, the mission of Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement is to make every Filipino child a peace hero, says Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, the group’s founder. She points out that 60% to 70% of those affected by armed conflicts are children. “If we want a peaceful nation, we must invest in a culture of peace in the hearts and minds of our children and youth… and a big part of the investment should be on girls and young women,” she says. The group envisions a peaceful society where young generations of different faiths work together for peace.

According to Geronimo, the challenge is for everyone, especially the vulnerable groups, to work together, build their agenda, and raise their voices. “Dapat iyon ay tuluy-tuloy. Dahil karapatan nyo na i-demand ang iyong rights in any political environment,” she stresses. 

I stand with these women in the call for having a socially-accountable agenda and strengthened systems for our fellow women who are suffering from the effects of war and conflicts. Women should be allowed to have a space where they can reach their full capacity and participate in decision-making in  government, especially when it comes to peacebuilding.

I believe that women deserve to be heard so we need to continue to strengthen our voices—make it louder—and walk the path towards a just and inclusive tomorrow. 


Watch Pamilya Talk on FacebookYouTube and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. Monday & Wednesday). You can also follow my social media accounts:  InstagramFacebookYouTubeTiktokTwitter and Kumu.  Please share your stories or suggest topics at

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