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Women will keep on to see the resurrection

02:22 AM March 30, 2016

The last men standing were actually women.

Women accompanied Jesus throughout His suffering until He breathed His last and was laid in the tomb. Women were also the last ones seen in the gallery of the 16th Congress until the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) breathed its last and was laid in the tomb by the same Congress.

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But the women are not wailing. They pin their hope in the resurrection of a peace process stalled by the nonpassage of the proposed BBL. They are not weeping. They know that the failure of Congress to pass the proposed law will not put off the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on March 27, 2014.

Hence, they are keeping on. They are working to sustain the gains of the peace process, some of these their own.

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The peace process may have been derailed, but women are already assured of their right to meaningful participation in political affairs and protection from violence as this right is already enshrined in the CAB, the peace agreement that lays down the principles for the establishment of an autonomous political entity for the Bangsamoro.

The peace process may have not yet reached the finish line, but we can no longer discount the fact that women played meaningful roles in getting to where we are at the moment. The head of the government’s peace office is a woman, and so is the government’s chief peace negotiator. Women are heads or active members of various peace mechanisms such as the Joint Normalization Committee, the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission, the Third Party Monitoring Team, and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission; women lead the government’s technical and legal teams. Even the MILF has two women advisers in its legal team. Hence, in terms of actual participation, women have broken the glass ceiling.

The peace process may have been temporarily silenced by the nonpassage of the proposed BBL, but we celebrate the fact that the voices of the women in communities, normally unheard, have been brought to the fore. Women were consulted on what they wanted in the Bangsamoro Basic Law and saw their perspectives actually integrated by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in the BBL draft it submitted to President Aquino as well as in the House of Representatives ad hoc committee’s version of the bill.

Congress may have struck down the proposed law, but it can no longer take away the confidence this peace process has built among women who were trained in leadership and participation in governance, peace and security. The skills in public speaking, advocacy, message and platform development, among others, will stay with the women, many of whom are seeking positions in the upcoming elections. Yes, the belief that they are secondary citizens has been challenged these past years during the peace negotiations. “We can participate,” women joyfully exclaimed in one of the leadership training sessions of which this author was cofacilitator.

Indeed, the developments brought about by the peace process have convinced them that the days of political invisibility are over. Mindsets and attitudes have changed, including those of men, many of whom are now supportive of the cause.

The peace process may have been stalled, but the long period of sustained ceasefire has allowed women and men in the conflict-affected areas to experience how it is to live without war. Women have expressed time and again that their sources of insecurity were war and armed conflict and their impact, such as evacuations and displacement; the peace and order problems including the proliferation of firearms; and socioeconomic deficiencies and social instability. But thankfully, the sustained ceasefire has allowed children to go to school, and their elders to engage in livelihood uninterrupted. The sustained ceasefire has allowed development programs and socioeconomic activities to flourish. Women can’t let go of that peace now. They will build a path forward.

Yes, the 16th Congress may have struck down that piece of legislation, but women will keep on to see the resurrection.

Jasmin Nario-Galace is executive director of the Center for Peace Education-Miriam College, Secretariat of the Women Engaged in Action on 1325. WE Act 1325 worked with Al-Mujadillah Foundation, Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace, Nisa Ul Haqq fi Bansamoro, Pinay Kilos, Tarbilang Foundation, Teduray Lambangian Women’s Organization and UnYPhil-Women in projects to put in operation women’s participation in the Bangsamoro that are administered by Conciliation Resources and Oxfam and funded by the UK and Australian Embassies.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Basic Law, Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Jesus Christ, resurrection of Jesus, women
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