Training to build up more women in politics and governance held

Nov. 15, 2012

WeGovern president and former Gabriela Women’s party-list representative Liza Maza said the institute’s basic advocacy is to increase the number of women in politics and all levels of governance.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Grassroots women wishing to enter politics and be a community leader were given a skills training Wednesday at the Felis Resort in Davao City.

The Working for Empowerment and Good Governance Institute, Inc. (WeGovern Institute) organized the training in cooperation with the Integrated Gender and Development Division of the City Mayor’s Office and the Sangguniang Panglunsod (City Council) Committee on Women, Children and Family relations.

WeGovern president and former Gabriela Women’s party-list representative Liza Maza said the institute’s basic advocacy is to increase the number of women in politics and all levels of governance.

She pointed out that just because two women presidents have been elected, it doesn’t follow that the country no longer holds a discriminative view of the leadership of women because women are still underrepresented.

“The higher the level of governance, the lesser the participation of women,” Maza said.  She added that people still generally look up to men to hold higher positions, even in political parties.  Maza said no women hold high positions in the country’s major ‘traditional’ political parties, except for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who headed the Lakas party.  Maza attributes this to Arroyo being the president of the country.

International instruments such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) sets that at least 30 percent of positions in governance are held by women.  Maza, however, said that 30 percent should be considered the minimum.  “What women truly hope for is parity or 50-50 (percent),” Maza said.

The woman leader added that there are other countries where women hold a higher number.  “To do this, we have to have affirmative action or temporary measures, which are already in place in the Magna Carta of Women,” Maza added.

Maza elaborated that temporary measures include training women in different areas of expertise so that parity can be achieved a lot faster.  She added that there should also be incentives to government agencies which have programs for women, and the like.

Community leader Nena Badilles, who heads a chapter of Gabriela in their home village Panacan, says that trainings such as the one organized by WeGovern are valuable in empowering women leaders, adding that they are informed about laws like the Magna Carta of Women which advance the interests of women.

“This is a good start in creating women leaders,” said Badilles.

Not just women

Besides increasing the number of women in government, WeGovern also wants to impart “new politics and governance” to the participants.

“Not just women, but women who are harbingers of new politics and good governance — participatory democracy or the active participation of the people, especially from the grassroots,” she adds.

Maza says that the country saw two women presidents but failed to evaluate the condition of the many poor women they claim to represent.  Maza explains that this is because the two women leaders came from the elite and essentially practiced traditional politics.

Magna Carta of the poor women

The Magna Carta of Women is the particularization of the United Nation’s Cedaw.  It contains the economic rights, the civil-political rights and cultural rights of women.

WeGovern goes around the country to propagate awareness on the Magna Carta for Women.

“(Of the) 2,000 men and women whom we gave education on the Magna Carta, all of them say that the real problem of women is economic,” shared Maza.  She said their people agree that it’s the biggest barrier for women to be empowered and achieve equality with men.

Maza assailed the current Aquino administration for implementing programs that have made women’s lives worse especially the Public-Private-Partnership, which have caused the privatization of public utilities, hospitals and even schools.  Maza explained that government deprives not only women but the entire people of access to such basic services, which should be the primary role of the government.

“If the question is whether the current president is addressing the interests and needs of women, the answer is “no” because he is not addressing the economic difficulties of women, of which the majority is poor,” Maza said.

She adds that the Aquino government’s governance and policies are not in line with the spirit of the Magna Carta.

WeGovern support

Maza also pledged that WeGovern would support women leaders who plan to re-enter or enter politics and governance.  Support is given through orientation of principles on politics and governance along with practical skills.  “For example, if you are in the barangay, and you want to make-use of the Gender and Development budget, we teach them Gad planning and budgeting,” Maza said.  “Personality development is included, for example, how to be a good speaker,” she added.

In advocacy, Maza said that they can also give women knowledge on how to lobby, from the barangay to the national level.  She added women leaders can also be taught to do networking if they have an agenda or an issue which they want to inform the community about so that the community can be mobilized.  (John Rizle L. Saligumba/

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