Manila, February 4, 2013 – Isis International, in partnership with WeAct 1325 and the Norwegian Embassy, today hosted “Huntahan, Balitaan at Kapayapaan: A Dialogue with Media and Mindanao Women on the Peace Process” at the Richmond Hotel in Pasig City. The event was a venue for four women from Mindanao to tell their personal stories about their experiences working and living in Mindanao and the various roles they have assumed in the common effort to bring lasting peace to the region.
The dialogue was held in light of the fact that women have always been portrayed as the victims during conflict, but rarely as active participants in the peace process. With the help of these actual accounts from women on the ground, the public, through the help of the media, may get access to previously untold stories of what really happens during the process of rebuilding and restructuring.
Lina Sagaral Reyes, a journalist who has been reporting from the peace fronts of Mindanao since 2000, lamented the lack of economic support for journalistic efforts that aim to expose post-conflict stories of reconstruction.
Tasneem Cadar Abdul Rauf, a peace and gender justice advocate and member of the Khadija Center for Muslim Women Studies, focused on issues related to the internal migration of Muslim women affected by conflict. She said that many Muslim women who migrated to Manila to seek better economic opportunities have experienced discrimination and trauma. Muslim women, according to Abdul Rauf, have become the face of poverty as the effect of conflict.
Maimona Musa Didatu-Bayan, a public school teacher from Cotabato City and Central Mindanao Regional Secretary of Noorus-Salam (Light of Peace), was an evacuee and victim of war. She recounted her and her family’s struggles at the evacuation center and the challenges they faced as they tried to recover what they had lost. Maimona was headstrong in her fight to survive. She worked her way through school and eventually got a degree and a job at the local school.
Carmen Lauzon-Gatmaytan shared her thoughts from a peace advocate’s perspective. Apart from the unrecognized efforts of women in the quest for peace, Gatmaytan stressed the fact that women, including members of the indigenous communities, should be assured a space at the peace negotiation table. The women who are working on the ground, she said, still need our support.
The organizer of this dialogue, Isis International, is a feminist NGO whose advocacy is to advance women’s rights, leadership, and empowerment in Asia and the developing world, particularly through communication. Co-organizer WeAct is a national network of women peace-makers.
For more information, contact:
Lalen de Vela