Indigenous women in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were equipped with knowledge about their rights and the mechanisms available for their protection during the Indigenous People Women’s Summit held recently in Cotabato City in celebration of the National Women’s Month.
Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women (RCBW)-ARMM Chairperson Sittie Jehan Mutin explained that the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (RAPWPS) 2017-2019 provides a platform for IP women to voice out their concerns.
The RAPWPS 2017-2019 was developed based from the assessment conducted by local agencies that identified the most imminent issues of women in their communities.
“We need to ensure that they [IP women] have access, linkages and networks so that we become their voice as IP women in ARMM. They are very much welcome to work with us, and our entry point for now would be the RAPWPS. We are hoping that not only would these women become beneficiaries of RAPWPS but also partners for implementation.” Mutin added.
In addition to the RAPWPS, Mutin cited the Magna Carta of Women, ARMM Gender and Development (GAD) Code, and the Regional Sub-Committee of GAD (RSCGAD) as legal instruments in protecting the IP women’s rights citing provisions that recognize and respect the IP cultures and practices.
The Regional Human Rights Commission (RHRC)-ARMM stressed that all women – IPs or not – should have equal access to human rights.
“From the time na pinanganak tayo, ang ating human rights nage-exist na. Saan ka man galing, ano man ang ‘yong kulay, pare-pareho tayo ng karapatan. Remember: there is no such thing as right to violate rights,” said RHRC Maguindanao Head Atty. Norpaisa Paglala.
The two-day consultation further discussed the current situation of IPs in ARMM that identified poverty, cultural barriers, armed conflict, lack of legal remedies, environmental degradation, and gender health issues as amongst the common challenges being faced by the IP communities in the highlands.
Teduray and Lambangian Women’s Organization Executive Director Froilyn Mendoza said in order to address these challenges, people should first recognize the distinct identities of the IPs. They should also protect indigenous political structure and customary laws as well as the pursuit of institutional support to address their concerns.
The two-day consultation revolved around the theme “Indigenous Women, Peace and Security in the Bangsamoro: And ARMM Indigenous Women’s Consultation on Women’s Human Rights, the Peace Process and Prospects of Federalism”. This is part of the collaborative activities between the TLWOI and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).