For breaking barriers, 11 women from Mindanao honored today

David Yu Santos

MANILA, Philippines – Eleven individuals “who have broken silence, barriers and new ground for women” in Mindanao will be honored today in a gathering of influential women leaders in Davao City.

The Mindanao Commission on Women (MCW), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is organizing the event to recognize the accomplishments of women leaders in Mindanao amid the different challenges facing the region.

MCW chair emerita and chief executive officer Irene M. Santiago said that it’s only appropriate to pay tribute to these individuals through “Kamindanawan,” a gathering that will focus on the theme that “women should be taken seriously.”

According to Santiago, since its creation on Dec. 8, 2001 by Christian, Muslim and indigenous women in Mindanao, the MCW has “tremendously advanced the status of women” in the Southern Philippines, but “much still needs to be done.”

Maria Ressa, author-in-residence of The International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, will keynote the event.

Ressa will talk about “Social Media for Social Change.” She was former head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs and the Jakarta bureau of CNN.

Aside from Ressa, Jean Enriquez, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) who will speak on human trafficking, one of the pressing issues women face especially in poor areas in Mindanao.

According to the MCW, the honorees were chosen by the following categories: those who broke the silence (i.e. spoke of issues not openly discussed), barriers (i.e. engaged in fields traditionally dominated by men), or new ground (i.e. introduced innovations and breakthroughs).

Among this year’s honorees are the following:

  • Veteran journalist and Mindanews editor Carol Arguillas

  • Islamic scholar Prof. Hamid Barra

  • Renowned Moro leader Hadja Bainon Karon

  • Peace advocates Raissa Jajurie, Myla Leguro

  • Obo-Manobo tribal chieftain Bo-i Era Espana

  • National artist for dance Agnes Locsin

  • Davao-based obstetrics-gynecology specialist Dr. Regina Dela Paz-Ingente

  • Betty More, executive director of the Kababayen-an Alang sa Teknolohiya nga Haum sa Kinaiyahan ng Kauswagan, Inc. (KATAKUS)

  • Army Maj. Rosa Ma. Cristina R. Manuel, the first female battalion executive officer of the 10th Civil Military Operations (CMO) Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

  • Chief Inspector Grace Taculin of the Davao City Jail

  • Director Zenaida Hadji-Raof Laidan of the Department of Science and Technology, for initiating the only halal laboratory in the country

The two-day activities will begin this morning at the People’s Park, followed by a short parade to the Royal Ballroom of the Royal Mandaya Hotel for the formal opening and recognition programs.

Minister counselor for Development Cooperation Program Titon Mitra of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) will also be acknowledged for the organization’s goal to “influence public policy and public opinion by incorporating the women’s perspective in peace and development.”