OPAPP, UN Women conduct leadership training for MNLF women

In line with the efforts of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to highlight the crucial role of women in community development and peacebuilding, the agency partnered with the United Nations Women in the conduct of a leadership training for Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) women leaders under Founding Chairman Nur Misuari.

The MNLF National Women’s Committee gathered 17 women leaders from the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Cotabato, and Davao City, and General Santos City for the first batch of the training held last October 26 to 29, 2021.

The second batch, which will be held in the middle of this month, will be joined by women leaders from Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

“Throughout our nation’s history, women have shown that they can be influencers and change-makers in shaping the political, economic, social, and cultural landscape of our country,” said Presidential Peace Adviser and GPH (Government of the Philippines) Peace Coordinating Committee Chair Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.

“However, in many instances in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas, many women continue to be marginalized, abused, and under-estimated and have not been provided space and opportunity to lead or be part of decision-making especially on matters that affect their lives,” he added.

According to Galvez, the leadership training aims to address the challenges faced by women in peace and security, and at the same time, provide them an avenue where the government and MNLF women leaders can work together in sustaining the gains of the GPH-MNLF Peace Process.

Ustadz Abdulkareem Misuari, the vice-chair of the MNLF Central committee, likewise recognized the key role of women in society.

“There has been a number of great women who contributed to various legacies in Islam – martyrs, believers, warriors, educators, and scholars. May the women in this generation follow their footsteps and attribute a great deal to our society, especially for peace and development,” Misuari said.

The leadership training was an offshoot of the strategic planning workshop held last June this year, which enabled the MNLF women leaders to craft their five-year strategic plan.

 “For UN Women, it is a wonderful opportunity for us to be part of this partnership with OPAPP and MNLF. We are delighted that the leadership of MNLF has extended their trust and willing collaboration in attaining the shared goal of empowering the women leaders of the National Committee and fulfilling the peace agenda and implementation of the Peace Process,” said UN Women Project Manager Rizza Torrado.

“That is why there is a need to ensure that our women leaders will have the institutional support, knowledge, appropriate leadership skills, and strong values founded in the agenda of peace and unity,” she added.

During the training, the MNLF women learned the various principles of leadership based on Islam, gender, and development. They were also introduced to concepts of peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and community security.

The participants likewise crafted their committee’s leadership roles, as well as developed a two-year action plan on leadership development, capacity building, and organizational systems.

“Empowerment of women brings about systemic changes that would rehabilitate and reignite the hopes and dreams within each man, woman, and child. The very definition of empowerment takes on dynamic forms which blend according to culture, context, and identity,” said MNLF Women’s Committee Chair and Head Secretariat of MNLF Peace Coordinating Committee, Nur-Ainee Lim.

“Bringing about positive changes that benefit the society as a whole, reflect the current trend of embracing the roles women fill in to explore, mediate, inspire and innovate,” Lim added.

The venue also served as a space to share their personal struggles and stories of hope and perseverance as viewed from the lens of MNLF communities.

“The series of sessions gave them the opportunity to open up to realizations that there is still a need for healing and building up of one another in order to reach their aspirations,” said OPAPP Director and Head of the GPH Peace Coordinating Committee Secretariat Jana Gallardo.

“This is the beauty of dialogue and conversation because sharing their stories and their unique experiences are essential in building a support system,” Gallardo said.

This will also be fundamental in positioning their roles in the society and recognizing their leadership capabilities,” she added.

Facilitators of the activities also included Maricel Aguilar and OPAPP Director Mae Ballena. (PR)