Ms. Inshallah Montero (left) and Dr. Joan Castro (right) address questions during the Open Forum.

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) organized a Mabini Dialogue and film showing titled The Women of Sarawak and Mindoro: The Invisible Battle of Climate Change on 29 June 2018 at the Benedicto Room, Carlos P. Romulo Library. The guest speakers were Ms. Inshallah Montero, the film’s director, and Dr. Joan Castro, PATH Foundation Philippines Inc. Executive Vice President.

The film featured the women of Mindoro island and the mountains of Sarawak as they overcome hardships brought about by the ill effects of climate change. Described in the film as one of the most climate-vulnerable sectors, women do not only take care of their families but they also struggle to take care of the environment that nurtures them.

Ms. Montero described her arduous but enriching experience in making the documentary and emphasized the power of media to raise awareness on important social issues. Ms. Montero stressed, “You want people to understand what you’re working on and the best way to translate that and reach out to other people is to actually make videos.”  She further said that creating gender-responsive environmental policies would greatly help women living in poor communities in facing the threat of climate change.

Dr. Castro gave a brief presentation about the research on which the film was based. She underscored the dual responsibility of women: to take care of families and to help preserve the environment. “Women,” she said, “want to be healthy for themselves and for their children so that they could take care of the environment. They want to take care of the environment because they recognize that it’s the one that takes care of them.” Dr. Castro highlighted the importance of family planning and called for local governments to adopt a holistic and inter-relational approach to address the needs of women in the era of climate change.

Ms. Rhodora Joaquin awards certificates of appreciation to Dr. Castro and Ms. Montero.