Message of the UN Resident Coordinator for the 3rd State of the Bangsamoro Women Address
25 November 2021
UN Philippines Resident Coordinator's message for the start of the 18 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women in BARMM
Assalamu Alaikom Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
As the UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines, it is my privilege to start the first day of the annual 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women here in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
I have just arrived in Cotabato for a 5 day mission, and it is my pleasure to start my programme here with reconnecting with friends in the Bangsamoro Women Commission and beyond. And with joining you in giving attention to a very serious issue that we need to eliminate.
Today, I speak in solidarity with Bangsamoro women and men and the brave frontline responders, working to fight the pandemic, while enduring decades of conflicts with the hope for a better future – a future of sustainable and inclusive peace for all.
The COVID-19 is a stark reminder that peace is not just the absence of war. The spillover impact of the health crisis today has quickly become a protection crisis. It reveals pre-existing socio-economic inequalities and reinforces gender inequality.
Women, especially those of the vulnerable groups, are hardest hit.
The pandemic is a driver and multiplier of conflicts. The spread of misinformation and disinformation, increasing discrimination of marginalized groups has threatened to destabilize social cohesion.
The use of certain emergency and security responses has gendered impacts and there is a risk of further backsliding the human rights of women and marginalized groups.
Data shows that displaced women and girls and those affected by conflict worldwide are experiencing increased gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and BARMM is not the exception.
Child marriage is also an alarming concern in the region. Research and statistics have shown that girls who are married as children have higher chances of experiencing physical, psychological, or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands than those who enter into marriage as consenting adults.
Gender-based violence is also a key driver for conflict that often escalates into full-scale ridos. In many cases, families of the victims had to settle these by a forced marriage of the victims and the perpetrators.
Shame and stigmatization of the victims coupled with fear for safety and retaliation have kept the victims silent and perpetuated a culture of impunity.
During the pandemic, the increasing risks of radicalization, clan rido and gender-based violence related to armed conflicts have a disproportionate impact on women and girls in BARMM.
It calls for intensifying efforts to end gender inequality and misogyny that perpetuate sexual violence in conflicts – which is fundamentally linked to violence in peacetime.
Despite progress made in BARMM, women’s influence and inclusion in community affairs remain tenuous, especially in fragile contexts. A lack of formality and opportunity often manifest in decreased access to resourcesor influence in decisionmaking in the local governance institution and processes, including adequately resourced-services for VAW survivors.
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
In the Philippines, the UN system is a steadfast partner to support both the government, civil society partners and women organizations in the peacebuilding efforts in BARMM. Our commitment to BARMM is a central part of the UN’s roadmap – the Socioeconomic and Peacebuilding Framework for COVID-19 Recovery in the Philippines.
The women, peace and security agenda has never been more relevant than during the COVID-19 crisis. Where women are empowered to lead and participate in peacebuilding, conflict prevention, resolution and recovery, societies are more likely to succeed.
We believe that violent conflicts cannot be addressed without understanding the gender dimensions and recognizing the needs of women and girls, particularly those who are affected by the violence both in conflict and post-conflict settings.
Through the Peacebuilding Fund, the UN Joint Program “Promoting conflict prevention, social cohesion and community resilience in BARMM in the time of COVID-19” is bringing together UN agencies to support the reintegration of female ex-combatants and capacite BARMM institutions and communities so that women can fully participate in peacebuilding and conflict prevention as peacebuilders and mediators.
We commend the commitment and efforts of the Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC), BARMM Ministries, Agencies and Local Government Units (LGUs) to widen space for engagement with women organizations and civil society for constructive policy dialogue. This is key to the implementation of the BARMM Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.
We are very encouraged to see the local women mediators taking a stronger role in rido settlement and mediation platforms at the community level while advocating for women’s leadership in the Women Speakers Bureau at the regional level.
In support to the Bangsamoro Women Comission, the UN system will continue to support capacity building of the women peacebuilders and mediators as well as structural and institutional change for a more inclusive engagement of women in peacebuilding.
This is not only important but necessary for long-lasting peace in BARMM.
I would like to conclude on a positive note and with a few concrete suggestions on areas that we can continue to build on in our existing efforts and collaboration.
These include fast-tracking the BARMM Gender and Development Code led by the BTA. I believe this will help transform the administrative and service landscapes of the region to address gender-based violence at the community and regional levels.
Furthermore, improving data collection on gender-based violence, service delivery for GBV survivors in BARMM and addressing child marriage will be key to addressing violence against women and girls in this region and beyond.
Finally, enhancing linkages between formal and informal justice systems where GBV cases are normally mediated in BARMM will be critical to ensure women’s access to justice.
The prevention of gender-based violence is one of the main pillars of the BARMM Regional Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security. The UN is committed to support BWC, BARMM agencies and LGUs, from the provinces down to the municipalities, to localize their plans and strategies and translate commitment into action.
I wish us all a constructive and impact full 18 days of activism!