The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) held “Women Peacemakers: The Wonder Women in Bangsamoro Mindanao” on 20 October 2020, the Institute’s first virtual Mabini Dialogue. Ms. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), was the guest speaker.
Ms. Rasul gave a brief presentation on the vital role of women in promoting peace and development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Her presentation highlighted Muslim women who have made significant contributions in the fields of governance, peace mediation, and education. Some of the Muslim women leaders mentioned were women’s rights champion Senator Santanina Rasul; peace mediator Governor Tarhata Alonto-Lucman, and educator Bai Matabay Namli Plang.
She also described how the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) provides a representation of women in the local government. Under the BOL, women are given a sectoral seat in the Bangsamoro Parliament and at least one woman should be appointed to the cabinet. These provisions ensure active engagement of women in the policy-making process.
The discussion during the open forum focused on how women could increase their participation in national governance. Ms. Rasul said that the current government needs more women leaders to effectively promote women’s welfare and development.
According to Ms. Rasul, one of the challenges to women’s increased participation in nation-building is the hijacking of the interpretation of the Islamic faith to enhance the power of men over women by extremists. She called on women from around the world to come together to oppose fundamentalist thoughts that discriminate against them.
Ms. Rasul also said that the Shari’ah Law needs to be reformed to better align with the constitutionally protected principle of gender equality before the law.
Ms. Rasul concluded the discussion with a suggestion that there should be an increased engagement among women from the Philippines and from other countries, particularly in the Middle East, to share best practices in promoting women’s rights and participation in peacebuilding. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through its foreign service posts, could act as a bridge between women’s organizations in the Philippines and international women’s organizations to champion women as agents of peace.
Ms. Rasul is the recipient of the 2019 N-Peace Award given by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for her campaign for women’s rights and peacebuilding.
The Mabini Dialogue was attended by DFA and FSI officers and staff, and representatives of select government agencies and non-government organizations.