Women-led CSOs unify vision to champion community initiatives for Lianga, SDS

Published: Jun 11, 2024 Reading time: 5 minutes
Five women-led Civil Society Organizations in Lianga convened various stakeholders from national, regional, provincial, municipal, and barangay levels to present proposals and mobilise support and resources. They focused on projects that would benefit their respective communities.
© Photo: Zenny Awing

Five women-led Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) collaborated to host a stakeholders’ forum in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The aim was to present 67 project proposals to 20 stakeholders, addressing the diverse needs of citizens in their respective barangays and municipality. 

These CSOs, including the Kalinaw Tu Kabudagan Women’s Organization (KTK), Banahao Women’s Association (BWA), San Isidro Women’s Welfare Association (SIWWA), San Pedro Women’s Association (SPWA), and St. Christine’s Women Association (SCWA), merged their efforts after thorough deliberation on what projects to conduct within their organizations. They recognized the value of pooling resources to ensure a comprehensive presentation of proposals and to garner the attention of target stakeholders.

Rowena Quesada, treasurer of SPWA, explained that the stakeholders’ forum was chosen as the ideal platform to showcase and advocate for the proposed projects, which were collectively identified by the civil society organizations within the community.

Before the forum, these organizations engaged in consultations with other CSOs through the ‘Community Peace Conversation’ (CPC), discussing concerns and issues affecting their communities. This approach allowed for the integration of various perspectives and ensured a comprehensive representation of community needs. 

“In the planning phase, we conducted a CPC inviting representatives from different CSOs in our respective barangays to incorporate their ideas into the agenda. We collectively identified community issues and needs and came up with several proposals and projects focused on social aspects, economic/ livelihood initiatives, infrastructure development, and advocacy campaigns,” said Amalyn O. Plaza, chairperson of SCWA.

Championing Advocacies to Address Community Issues

As part of their project initiatives, the five women CSOs conducted advocacy campaigns addressing critical issues in their communities, such as teenage pregnancy, responsible parenthood, Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) rights, and organic farming.

In barangays Banahao, St. Christine, and San Pedro in Lianga, teenage pregnancy became a pressing concern due to the surge in cases over the last three years, according to the Rural Health Unit. In response, these three women CSOs conducted awareness campaigns focusing on reproductive health and responsible parenting, aiming to empower teenagers and parents with knowledge on positive choices and create informed and supportive communities. They partnered with local authorities, healthcare professionals, and schools to strengthen their efforts.  

“We prioritized addressing teenage pregnancy and responsible parenting because Lianga has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the Caraga region and we even ranked as the highest in HIV cases in Surigao del Sur province,” said Plaza.

Meanwhile, in barangay Diatagon, where Kalinaw Tu Kabudagan is based, the IP community continues to face discrimination due to lack of knowledge about IP laws. In response, KTK

decided to conduct an awareness campaign targeting schools and households. “As an IP women CSO, our goal is to deepen the IP community’s understanding of our law so we can assert our rights confidently. The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) has not been widely disseminated among the IPs.

Through an awareness campaign targeting schools and households, we aim to inform more IPs about IPRA, particularly the youth and those who may not fully understand it yet,” said Susan M. Rivas, KTK chairperson. 

Lianga also faces significant malnutrition concerns. According to the 2022 Regional Nutrition Situation report by the Department of Health National Nutrition Council, Lianga ranks among the top seven municipalities in Caraga on the prevalence of underweight children and among the top six on the prevalence of stunting cases. In response, the San Isidro Welfare’s Association recognized the need to establish an organic and communal garden in their barangay to help alleviate malnutrition.

Building Partnerships and Securing Support

The initiative led by the women’s CSOs received praise from stakeholders at the national, regional, provincial, municipal, and barangay levels. The forum became an avenue for stakeholders to showcase their programs and services, with a commitment of support to the CSOs and their proposed projects.

The Office of the Vice President committed P150,000 to all five CSOs for their proposed livelihood projects. An additional P500,000 will be given to Banahao Women’s Association and San Isidro Women’s Welfare Association for their proposed livelihood projects. 

National government agencies have committed to training and campaign programs in agriculture, gender awareness, and entrepreneurship. Others also committed to providing equipment, medicines and medical supplies, road concreting, services like mass weddings, free birth registration, and provision of health insurance for barangay volunteers, and more.

Among the 67 proposed projects of the CSOs, 39% or 26 of them secured the government’s commitment right on the spot. All the other proposals will be reviewed and evaluated by concerned stakeholders.

“We will continue lobbying for our advocacy and projects by actively participating in the barangay and municipal development councils. We remain committed to collaborating with various stakeholders for the development and peace of our barangay,” Mapula said.

Present stakeholders in the forum included the barangay and municipal local government units and offices of Lianga, the Office of the Vice President, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry, North Eastern Mindanao State University, Philippine Coconut Authority, Philippine National Police, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, among others. 

This project is funded by the European Union and implemented by People in Need Philippines, Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc., and Maranao People Development Center Inc. 

Autor: Zenny Awing, MEAL and Communications Officer

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