The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines has collaborated with the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom to support women, peace and security (WPS) in the Bangsamoro region.
Among the key projects that the partnership will cover is the Women Insider Mediators – Rapid Action and Mobilization Platform (WIM – RAMP)—a group of community-based women mediators from Moro and Indigenous Peoples communities in BARMM who are committed to working together towards the empowerment of Bangsamoro women as peace-builders, conflict mediators, and community leaders in the region.
In two separate virtual conferences with the top diplomats of the embassies of the UK and Sweden in the Philippines, UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran noted that UNDP acknowledges the resilience of women mediators and peacebuilders in the face of intersecting vulnerabilities brought about by conflicts, natural disasters and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Developed with the support of various UN agencies, the Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) launched the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan on WPS 2020-2022 two years ago, which seeks to enhance the role of Bangsamoro women in the implementation of the peace agreement and the protection of their human rights in conflict and post-conflict transformation.
Through the agreement, Sweden will support UNDP and BWC’s ongoing work in implementing the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security alongside the new Bangsamoro Community Resilience Framework. The initiative also aims to promote women’s empowerment and strengthen communities against natural disasters, conflicts, and pandemics respectively.
Swedish Ambassador to Manila Harald Fries emphasized the importance of the partnership and noted that the promotion of women empowerment and gender equality is mainstreamed in Swedish government work, as Sweden is known globally for its feminist government and feminist foreign policy.
Fries said gender equality is an objective in itself, adding that one should also see gender equality as an essential element to achieve other objectives, such as peace, security, and development.
“Studies show that the quality, legitimacy and sustainability of peace agreements and peacebuilding are significantly higher when women are included as active participants and have real influence in the peace process,” the diplomat from Sweden said.
On the part of the UK, British Embassy Charge d’Affaires Alastair Totty said they continue to place gender equality at the front and center of the UK’s program to promote economic growth, peace, and stability in the BARMM.
The British Embassy’s program of support to the Bangsamoro has so far provided technical assistance and support on drafting the Bangsamoro Gender and Development Code, Electoral Code, and Women’s Caucus Bill. These bills provide some sustainable gains for the Bangsamoro women and girls, ensuring representational seats, and provide a platform for women political leaders.
The UK and UNDP sealed the new partnership to bolster the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (RAP-WPS) 2020-2022 established by the BWC.
Among the objectives of the new UK-UNDP partnership is to provide support to women’s engagement in preventing violence and violent extremism in their communities. This collaboration also targets strengthening the capacities of community-based women leaders and peacebuilders in promoting peace and development and in conflict mediation and negotiations.
With the agreement, the UK government will support UNDP and the BWC in their ongoing efforts to facilitate more involvement of Bangsamoro women in peace-building efforts and enable them to play critical roles as facilitators, convenors, and mediators in sustaining peace in the region. Among the key initiatives that will be supported by the partnership is the Women Insider Mediators-Rapid Action and Mobilization Platform — a group of community-based women mediators from Moro and Indigenous Peoples communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In her remarks, BWC Chairperson Bainon Karon expressed the BWC’s appreciation of the continued support to the Women, Peace, and Security agenda in BARMM and noted the importance of “bringing the women in, especially in transitional institutions and mechanisms required to enable broad-based implementation processes. Women are more effective in building partnerships which is a key element in implementation.”