A new UN Women project supports women-led peacebuilding efforts in southern Philippines

Date: Monday, October 4, 2021

Nora Zacaria, of the civil society organization Barira, Buldon, Matanog Group of Women from Maguindanao, participates in a discussion on conflict at an event organized by UN Women. The Action Planning for Women Leaders on Conflict Affected Areas was held in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines, on 3 August, 2021. Photo: UN Women/Louie Pacardo
Nora Zacaria, of the civil society organization Barira, Buldon, Matanog Group of Women from Maguindanao, participates in a discussion on conflict at an event organized by UN Women. The Action Planning for Women Leaders on Conflict Affected Areas was held in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines, on 3 August, 2021. Photo: UN Women/Louie Pacardo

Manila, Philippines — Women of the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao in the southern Philippines have long led the way in efforts to resolve conflict and build peace. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for them to gather with their communities so they have moved much of this critical work online. In September, with funding from the Government of Norway, UN Women Philippines launched a one-year programme of trainings, dialogues and technical assistance to support this transition.

In the Philippines as elsewhere, voices of hate, intolerance and conflict also have increasingly migrated online during the pandemic. UN Women considers it essential to promote digital literacy so citizens and activists can counter with messages of tolerance and peace..

In Mindanao, separatist groups fought the central authorities for decades; tens of thousands died. A 2014 peace treaty between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front led to the establishment in 2019 of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. But challenges persist because of the slow progress of the new governance system, communal conflict, violent extremism, and threats to social cohesion brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic..

The new UN Women project will:.

  • Provide trainings and information/communications equipment to women, youths and gender equality advocates so they can respond early on to violent narratives and hate speech.
  • Organize public dialogues on violent extremism, and strategies to counter it, between community groups and government authorities in order to strengthen policies on women, peace and security.
  • Research and document how women leaders detect early warning signs of conflict in communities, and use these findings to educate people about best practices to prevent future conflicts.
  • Spread messages of gender equality, social cohesion, peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism to communities and decision-makers, including by supporting radio programmes in the Bangsamoro region.

The project targets Moro and indigenous people in conflict-affected areas. It will educate about 250 women in ways to promote social cohesion, and 200 women and men in digital literacy so they can promote gender-positive social engagement online. The social cohesion messages created by the women leaders and the radio programmes are expected to reach about 100,000 community members..

“It is critical to ensure women’s agency and the promotion and protection of their rights is at the center of these efforts,” said Carla Silbert, Officer-in-Charge for UN Women Philippines. “This program will focus on women’s empowerment and agency to safely promote peace, security, resilience and human rights in their communities on- and offline.”.

Ambassador Bjørn Jahnsen of Norway’s Embassy in Manila said: ‘Norway promotes an integrated approach to peace and security in our foreign policy. In the Philippines, we support various local grassroots-level initiatives. Conflict resolution requires social cohesion, and women in the Bangsamoro region are at the forefront of this important work. We are very pleased to support this through UN Women,’.

For more information:

Please contact Riza Torrado,
Women, Peace and Security Officer, UN Women Philippines.
Email: riza.torrado@unwomen.org