Representation and Participation of Rural Women in Governance and Implementation of Gender and Development

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

The Magna Carta of Women is framed in the context of CEDAW. It defines Gender and Development (GAD) as development perspective and process that are participatory and empowering, equitable, sustainable, free from violence, respectful of human rights, supportive of self determination and actualization of human potentials. It seeks to achieve gender equality as a fundamental value that should be reflected in development choices; seeks to transform society’s social, economic, and political structures and questions the validity of gender roles they ascribed to women and men; contends that women are active agents of development and not just passive recipients of development assistance; and stresses the need of women to organize themselves and participate in political processes to strengthen their legal rights.

There are several laws pro-actively promoting and protecting the rights of women. And yet, women’s important role and contribution in development and nation building are not yet fully recognized. Rural women are often treated at the sidelines. Their representation and participation in different local development councils and special bodies has been dismal. PKKK  cited several factors contributing to gender inequality in governance and participation: (1) the traditional notion that women’s role is always in the house, still proliferates in rural communities; (2) women commonly exhibit low confidence and self-esteem because the society considered them inferior in terms of decision-making, or being discouraged and prevented by their husbands or fathers from joining organizations or any political undertaking; (3) lack of information on CEDAW, law on gender equality, programs, resources and services not only of rural women but also local government officials and policy implementers; (4) men still dominate in the elective positions and leadership structure; (5) women’s participation in local elections are often impeded by traditional politics and  non-accreditation due to inconsistent processes/guidelines rigid requirements.

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Right to Basic Social Services

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

Women experience hunger differently from men.  Most of the times rural women prioritize male members of the family and children when there is little or not enough food.  Women comprise 30.1 % of the vulnerable groups who are experiencing chronic hunger in the Philippines.

PKKK study cited that women find ways to cope with hunger in the family by changing food preparation and diet intake of the family.

The composition of food of rural women varies from place to place.  In Samar, households eat Kamote, Palawan, gabi,  banana, rice, fish.  If rice is not available, rootcrops are used  alternative  source of carbohydrate during trying times. Home grown vegetables are also available.   They also have their ways of coping of eating.  They use salt, soy sauce, and cooking oil as viand.  There are instances that families go to sleep early because they have no food for dinner. 

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Rights of Women Fishers

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

Magna Carta of Women or RA 9710 defines fisherfolk (women) as “those directly or indirectly engaged in taking, culturing, or processing fishery or aquatic resources. These include, but are not to be limited to, women engaged in fishing in municipal waters, costal and marine areas, women workers in commercial fishing and aquaculture, vendors and processors of fish and coastal products, and subsistence producers such as shell-gatherers, managers and producers of mangrove resources, and other related producers.”

The Magna Carta of Women is an important legislative milestone for women in the fisheries sector because it clearly defines and recognizes their marginalization in resource management and governance as a result of gender-based discrimination.  It also addresses and rectifies the common notion of fishing as a work of “men” that resulted in the continuing marginalization of women fishers.

Furthermore, women fishers are guaranteed specific rights and entitlements such as equal rights to utilize, manage, develop and benefit from fisheries and aquatic resources, equal opportunities for empowerment and participation in resource management, governance and other relevant economic activities.

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Rights of Indigenous Women

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

When the Rural Women Agenda was consolidated, it was the tri-people women in Mindanao who intensely articulated the concern for the fulfilment of property rights in ancestral domain (Agenda 2) and the pursuit of peace agenda in Mindanao (Agenda 8).[1]

In the Philippines,  there are 15 to 20 million indigenous peoples or 12 to 16% of the total 80 million  140 ethno-linguistic groups.[2]  They can be found in 50 of the country’s 78 provinces. Currently, the NCIP roughly estimates the number of IPs in the Philippines to 110 groups or tribes with an estimated total population of around 12 million found in the various parts of the country based on a listing done in 19964.  Region XI has the highest total population with about 2.5 million, followed by Regions X has 1.4 million and CAR has 1.3 million.[3]

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Rural Women, Food Security, and the Right to the Land

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

Rural women secure our food – in the family, they do subsistence gardening and livestock raising to provide food on the table; in the national level, they engage in primary crops production such as rice, corn, coconut, sugar, and vegetables.  Studies show that in food production, women work 25 hours longer than men do in a week[1], which is estimated to account for 45 to 60 percent of food production in Asia.

In the Philippines, the  women in agriculture spend as much as eight to eleven hours a day in productive and reproductive work—i.e. acquiring capital for farming (usually through credit), carrying out planting activities, marketing the primary crop and backyard produce, and providing for their household’s daily survival needs. They also spend from one to six hours daily for domestic work, which includes activities like preparing farm tools and food for farm laborers, fetching water, gardening, foraging, wood gathering, raising poultry and livestock, and other livelihood activities. During the off-season, the women in agriculture spend more time in domestic chores, as well as augmenting cash income.   They accomplish these things because at the end of the day, rural women bear the responsibility of producing food on the table.  In fact, 60 percent of rural women exercise sole decision-making in their family households over what food to prepare for the family[2].

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