Honorable Chief Minister, Ahod Balawag Ebrahim, Honorable Speaker Atty Ali Pangalian Balindong represented by the BTA Secretary General Professor Raby B. Angkal, MP Maisara D. Latiph, MP Diamila d. Ramos, MP Atty. Raissa H. Jajurie, MP Muslima A. Asmawil, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Gustavo Gonzales, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Chairperson Sandra Montano of the Philippine Commission on Women, partners from the International Donor Organizations-United Nation Development Programme, UN Women, United Nation Population Fund, Oxfam, The Asia Foundation, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Support to Bangsamoro Transition, Ministers and Members of the Parliament, Civil Society, Muslim Religious Leaders, employees of the Bangsamoro Regional Government, other guests,

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

Today, just like November 25 of the last two (2) years, I stand before you to report on the State of the Bangsamoro Women. This year’s report will delve on 3 things: first, what have we achieved in terms of laying the foundation for gender and development as framework, perspective and program for reducing gender gaps; second, results of implementation of efforts addressing violence against women and supporting women’s empowerment; third, gaps and challenges and fourth, our call to action to address the remaining gaps and challenges.


When this representation assumed office as Chairperson of the Bangsamoro Women Commission in 2019, my first priority was to ensure that a gender and development, or GAD, agenda is adopted as the basis for GAD planning and budgeting. This GAD agenda should be integrated in a law to be passed as GAD Code.

Masaya ko pong ibabalita sa inyong lahat na, as of September 2021, meron na po tayong final draft ng Bangsamoro Gender and Development Code. Ito po ay nasa tanggapan na ng ating Chief Minister upang ito’y kanyang mapag-aralan. Ang Bangsamoro GAD Code ay naisama sa Tier 1 ng Priority Legislative Agenda ng Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

Among the salient features of the proposed Bangsamoro GAD Code is the penal provision which sanctions head of offices or local chief executives whose offices or local government units do not fully implement the mandated 5% gender and development budget according to its purpose.

Maaring kayo ay nagtatanong- kung wala pa tayong naipapasang GAD Code, ano ang naging basehan natin sa ating GAD planning and budgeting nitong huling dalawang taon?

For the information of everyone, pending the passage of the Bangsamoro GAD Code, the ARMM GAD Code is still in effect. Further, the Bangsamoro Women Commission, as oversight on gender and development, issued guidelines on GAD planning and budgeting for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022. The 2021 and 2022 guidelines already integrated COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.

Lugod din akong nagagalak na ibahagi sa inyo na inaprubahan na ng Bangsamoro Economic and Development Council, o BEDC, ang pagbuo sa Bangsamoro Gender and Development Committee, o BGADC, na siyang magkukumpas at magsisigurong nagkakatugma ang mga program at proyekto ng bawat ministro at local na pamahalaan na sumusuporta sa GAD. Ang BEDC ay espesyal na komite sa ilalim ng BEDC.

Considering that GAD planners and implementers of the region are 97% new employees, capacity building interventions were provided, including continuous coaching and mentoring. 45 technical employees of the region from the different ministries and offices underwent Training of Trainers on GAD. Subsequently, 123 planning and finance officers graduated from a Refresher Course on GAD Planning and Budgeting.

Of these trained, 124 are women and 44 are men. While gender and development is still largely viewed as women’s work, the advocacy is yielding results as evidenced by men’s involvement and participation in gender-related training and activities in the region.

As a result of a capacity building on data analysis of 20 BWC staff supported by the United Nation Development Programme, sets of data are now being consolidated to inform the process of formulating gender transformative policies and programs in the BARMM.

The Commission is grateful to The Asia Foundation, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, UN Women and United Nation Population Fund for sustaining their support and commitment to strengthen capacities of key people in implementing gender and development.

To ensure that gender is mainstreamed in all ministries and offices, the Bangsamoro Women Commission issued a memorandum circular on the strengthening of the GAD Focal Point System or GFPS in every ministry and office. This mechanism is tasked to coordinate the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of GAD plans and budgets and ensure that the 5% GAD budget is judiciously spent.

Further, the 2021 and 2020 GPB Guidelines already incorporate the Women, Peace and Security agenda. The Bangsamoro Regional Government is currently implementing the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, or RAPWPS. The plan was launched on October 30, 2021 during the 20th anniversary of United Nation Security Council Resolution 1325. Within one year after its launching, significant accomplishments were achieved. This leads me now to the second part of my address…


In this period of transition, among the imperatives for the Bangsamoro Transition Authority are: Number 1- ensure the meaningful participation of women in the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and in conflict transformation; and Number 2- facilitate the smooth transition of women and their communities from conflict to peace.

Along this line, I am proud to share that 34 women from Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur participated in Local Conflict Analysis and Capacity Development for Women Local Mediators organized by the Ministry of Public Order and Safety, in partnership with the Bangsamoro Women Commission and UN Women. Under the project entitled Promoting Conflict Prevention, Social Cohesion and Community Resilience in the BARMM, the intervention resulted from the Lanao del Sur Consultative Assembly in July of this year where mediators articulated how women play important roles in resolving conflict. For instance, participants of the said assembly – who were mostly men – do not see women as mere passive observers of conflicts as, according to them, they could be instrumental in resolving conflicts. In response, the Ministry of Public Order and Safety conducted an activity in Cagayan de Oro City and Bongao, Tawi-Tawi where it was stressed that women serve not only as backbone of the decision-making but also as catalyst in the mediation processes.

In a United Kingdom-United Nation Development Program partnership to support women’s engagement in preventing violence and violent extremism, the Women Insider Mediators-Rapid Action Mobilization Platform or WIM-RAMP was launched. The platform is a group of community-based women mediators from Moro and Indigenous Peoples communities in the region.

The WIM-RAMP is composed of 24 women representatives from the BWC, MNLF, MILF, Indigenous Peoples, and other civil society organizations.

In the Bangsamoro Women Commission, there is now a designated Ex-Officio Commissioner for the Indigenous Peoples in the person of Ms. Jocelyn Palao of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affair or MIPA.

To ensure women’s participation in the tribal justice system of the IPs, 3 out 5 members of the Provincial Tribal Council in Lanao del Sur are women, and 126 out of the 130 members of the Barangay Tribal Councils are women.

All these initiatives are designed to facilitate more involvement of Bangsamoro women in peacebuilding efforts and enable them to play critical roles as facilitators, convenors and mediators in sustaining peace in the Bangsamoro region.

Ang ibig sabihin po nito-hindi natin makakamtam ang tunay na kapayapaan kung walang partisipasyon ng mga kababaihan sa proseso ng usaping pangkapayaan.

On women’s participation in policing, the Police Regional Office for BARMM appointed 72 women as police officers for 2021. The figure represents 36% of the 200 quota for female officers, or a decrease of 14% from last year’s recruitment. The quota for female recruits in 2020 was 593 and the number of appointed female officers was only 83.

To facilitate the smooth transition of women and their communities from conflict to peace, it is necessary that interventions supporting women’s economic empowerment are provided. In a baseline research commissioned by The Asia Foundation under its project entitled Accelerate Women’s Entrepreneurship for Peace and Prosperity in Mindanao or ACCELERATE, 503 women from Maguindanao and Basilan responded. The research found that women who never had a job, livelihood or business were higher in Maguindanao than in Basilan. They account for 20% of the total number of respondents. Women who do not have a job, livelihood or business now but had them before were higher in Basilan than in Maguindanao. They are 76% of the total number of respondents. A higher percentage of respondents from Maguindanao which is 42.81% are currently engaged in economic activities than those in Basilan which comprised 14.2%.

The research also found that the occupation of those who are employed are predominantly in the skilled agriculture, forestry and fishery, which is 54%, followed by elementary occupation which is 23% and the remaining are in crafts and related trades, technicians and associate professionals, service and sales workers. 54% of employed women received PhP1,000 – P5,000 salaries per month; 31% received below P1,000/month and about 15% obtained salaries of P5,001 – P10,000 monthly.

Interventions from relevant ministries supporting women’s economic empowerment resulted to the following:

753 women were provided free stall and were able to access the MAFARLends, a loan granted to individuals without interest. 29 groups of accredited women’s organization were also assisted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Agrarian Reform or MAFAR in terms of accessing the MAFARLends, MAFARLengke, and skills development training on organic farming, record keeping, organic seeds of vegetables with provisions and organic rice seeds with provisions;

Indigenous women are now slowly getting into jobs that used to be for men- in welding and electrical works where 25 indigenous women were given skills development training;

275 all-women Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, or MSMEs, were assisted by the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Tourism, or MTIT. The MSMEs are considered as the backbone of the economy in the region and is considered as its driving force. They play a key role in developing the regional economy. They create job opportunities;

36 cooperatives accredited by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) were provided with capacity building interventions. The machineries and equipment as their start-up kit are still being procured but the same are expected to be turned over to them before the year ends;

In education, young girls continue to outnumber young boys in terms of enrollment. In elementary, there are 316,868 registered female enrollees, or 1% higher than the 315,448 male enrollees. In secondary, there are 32,749 female enrollees, or 24% higher than the 24,965 male enrollees.

On meeting the need of the Bangsamoro for housing, the Ministry of Human Settlement and Development, or MHSD, is implementing an affordable housing project which is being accessed through loan. For 2021, of the 55 grantees of housing loan, 3 are female solo parents- 2 widows and 1 separated.

The number of men accessing loans is higher than women, which may be indicative of a low financial capacity of women to contract loans.

To ensure that middle level workers of the region are skilled, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA has certified 3,996 women graduates of different vocational courses as of September 26, 2021. From a total of 6,158 female enrollees, 5,721 were able to graduate. 69% of the female graduates are certified as meeting the competency standards. The figure shows 6% increase from last year’s 3,752 number of certified female workers.

The certification ensures the productivity, quality and global competitiveness of the middle-level workers. The certified female workers will be included in the Registry of Certified Workers of TESDA which provides information on the pool of certified workers for certain occupations nationwide.

In pursuit of its mandate to develop, administer and implement comprehensive social welfare programs designed to uplift the living conditions and empower the disadvantaged children, youth, women, older persons, person with disabilities, families in crisis or at-risk and communities needing assistance, the Ministry of Social Service and Development or MSSD has accomplished the following:

Assisted 8,755 women beneficiaries of livelihood assistance under the Bangsamoro Sagip Kabuhayan program. Of this figure, 3,960 are Women in Especially Difficult Circumstances while the 4,795 are solo parents.

Served 23,965 female solo parents, providing them with welfare goods and hygiene kits in response to COVID-19.

Assisted 5,908 women beneficiaries under the Bangsamoro Critical Assistance in Response to Emergency Situation or BCARES. These women availed of assistance from MSSD partner hospitals and pharmacies, and MSSD regional and provincial offices.

Under the Siyap Ko Mga Bae project of the office of MP Maisara Latiph, 50 women who are widows and solo parents from the Dumpsite Area of Papandayan, Marawi City benefitted from the training for sustainable livelihood program on dressmaking and pastry production”. The dumpsite is the poorest of the poor areas in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City. The project aims to provide sustainable livelihood for the mothers, for them to support their children.

In line with its Kalinga Para sa Kababaihan, the Bangsamoro Women Commission, in partnership with my BTA office, assisted 490 women from Pagatin in Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Blah Sinsuat in Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, and Malisbong in Sultan Kudarat province. Cash assistance amounting to P1,050,000.00 was extended to 380 indigent senior citizens, majority of whom were women, from the towns of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Mother Kabuntalan, Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Datu Blah Sinsuat, Pandag, Paglat, Datu Paglas, General Salipada K. Pendatun, Buluan, Buldon and Barira in Maguindanao, Cotabato City, Pigcawayan and Midsayap in North Cotabato, and Malisbong, Sultan Kudarat Province.


The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with support from the Government of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, continue to support the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Women Auxiliary Brigade (BIWAB) by transforming them into gender champions, para-social workers and grassroots peace advocates in their communities. This year, additional 74 former female combatants from the 36 municipalities of Maguindanao started to gain confidence and work as para-social workers, gender equality champions, and grassroots advocates with leaders and primary duty bearers in their communities. The following were achieved this year:

  • These 74 para-social workers serve as links of their communities to service providers and duty bearers in their respective municipalities by referring clients such as survivors of gender-based violence or GBV who they came across during their information sessions, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, and possible beneficiaries of unconditional and conditional cash transfers of the government;
  • 70 Social Welfare Aids, or SWA, have supported the Municipal Social Welfare Officers in conducting social welfare and development indicators or SWDI assessments to determine and monitor the progress of the Pantawid Pamilya families’ well-being to support registered social workers’ case management in promoting 4Ps sustainable transition out of poverty. The SWAs also facilitated access of other sectors such as farmers and fisherfolks to concerned BARMM ministries by linking them with the MSSD, thereby promoting inter-ministry coordination and collaboration;
  • 74 SWAs carried out information sessions in communities and so far have reached 7,877 females and 2,897 males on topics such as prevention and response to gender-based violence, GBV-related laws, women’s rights, GBV referral pathway and survivor-centered community-led solutions. They received corresponding cash for work and cash-for-communication incentives for carrying out these tasks;
  • 53 members of the Multi-disciplinary Teams (PNP-WCPD, MSSD, MOH/IPHO) in Maguindanao were capacitated on 4Rs (Recognizing, Recording, Reporting and Referring)
  • 25 scholars from different ministries in the BARMM completed the Gender-based Violence in Emergencies Executive Course at the Ateneo de manila University in 2021; and
  • A client satisfaction tool was administered to get feedback from the recipients of different services provided to them by the SWAs. Out of 705 total feedback received from the information and awareness sessions conducted, 96% expressed satisfaction with the services they have received.

Among these 74 former women combatants, five were selected and trained as lead in managing the Ba-eyanihan Facebook Page as Virtual Safe Space for women and girls in Maguindanao and BARMM, in general. Ba-eyanihan is a combination of two Filipino words, “Bae” refers to a woman in the Bangsamoro and “bayanihan” as one of the Filipino values which means community spirit. Ba-eyanihan is therefore, woman and community spirit. Ba-eyanihan ensures availability of services for GBV survivors via remote service delivery. It also serves as a complement to strategic programming or existing face to face service delivery that traditionally has a limited geographic reach with services being accessible mainly to those residing near the regional and provincial offices as in the case of Maguindanao. This initiative also served as an entry point to leverage additional support from the government for GBV prevention and response. The MSSD Maguindanao on the other hand, formed a core group composed of five Registered Social Workers to help provide immediate emotional support through psychosocial first aid and case management

From January to October this year, the MSSD was able to provide psychosocial interventions and after-care services to 456 distressed Overseas Filipino Workers and 73 women and girls victims of trafficking.

On incidents of violence against women and children or VAWC, the Regional Women and Children Protection Desk or RWCPD of the BARMM Police Regional Office reported that from January to October this year, there are 71 new cases of VAWC in the region, showing an increase of 3 from last year’s 68. 70 of these incidents happened in Maguindanao province where 34 are cases on violence against women, with 1 rape case, and 36 are violence against children. Of the 36 incidents of violence against children, 22 are rape.

However, a case worker from the MSSD-Maguindanao shared that the ministry was able to assist 27 victims of rape from January to October. The figure does not tally with the 23 cases of rape reported to the PNP. This means that there were 4 incidents of rape which were unreported to the PNP. According to the MSSD, the 4 victims of rape went directly to the ministry to seek psychosocial support but were not interested to file a case.

To address VAWC, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has strengthened the Women and Children Protection Desks in each municipal police station. A female officer is assigned as WCPD in each police station, with a maximum of 2 WCPDs in class A municipalities.

In Datu Odin Sinsuat and South Upi towns in Maguindanao where sexual violence is prevalent, a community dialogue with 75 parents were convened, purposely to raise awareness on VAWC and create community-based support group that will cascade information on VAWC to the people in the barangays.

The Maguindanao Guidance Note on the Prevention of and Response to GBV and VAWC developed by the Maguindanao Police Provincial Office in 2020 will be rolled out on November 29 to December 2 in all the municipalities in the province. Among the salient provisions of the guidance note is the prohibition on settlement of rape cases especially when victims are minors, once the incidents are already reported to the PNP. Those who will facilitate the settlement will be charged legally.

After the roll out, the Guidance Note will be replicated in the other provinces of the region.

The increasing incidence of rape in Maguindanao does not indicate that it is only in Maguindanao where sexual violence is commonly committed. This means that victims and their families are now reporting to the police while in some areas, the prevalence of culture of silence is preventing victims and their families from reporting and from seeking assistance.

In terms of legal assistance, the Bangsamoro Attorney General’s Office, or BAGO, was able to assist 107 women under its Community Legal Service to Persons Deprived of Liberty. 71 of these women are from Tawi-Tawi, 25 from Maguindanao, 3 from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City, 5 from Basilan, and 3 from Lamitan City.

Persons deprived of liberty are persons who have been arrested, held in lawful custody, detained or imprisoned of a lawful sentence.

On Child, Early and Forced Marriage or CEFM

Despite the Fatwa on the Model Family in Islam which sets 18 as the recommended age for young women and 20 for young men, child marriage below the age of 18 is still prevalent in the region.

According to the 2017 National Demographic Health Survey of the Philippine Statics Authority, 1 in every 6 girls in the country are married before reaching the age of 18 years old. In the Bangsamoro region, the estimate is approximately 22 percent.

Out of the 1,312 respondents of the study who were between the ages 12-19 in the BARMM, 93% said that they were married between the age of 12 to 17; 4% said that they were already divorced between the age of 12 to 19, and 2% said that they were widowed between the age of 12-19.

While child marriage is allowed in our context and in our culture, it is still a harmful practice that can cause lasting impact throughout the lives of both girls and boys. It deprives them of the right to be free from violence, the right to education, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Evidence shows that adolescent mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 are twice as likely to die of pregnancy and childbirth complications as women between the ages of 20 and 24. The children of teen mothers too are twice as likely to die as a child of a woman in her 20s. Even when they survive, many of them have lower weight and stunting. In many cases, the greatest obstacles to girls’ education are child marriage, pregnancy and domestic chores, as they drop out from school and lose vocational chances. In addition, Many of adolescent brides are exposed to early and frequently repeated pregnancies and childbirth before they become physically mature and psychologically ready for responsible motherhood.

Poverty is considered as common factor causing child marriage. Frequent conflicts and disasters in the region also play a part. During the Marawi siege crisis in 2017, the Joint Child Protection and Gender-based Violence Working Group in Lanao del Sur conducted a Child Protection Rapid Assessment. In the report, 31% of transitional sites reported early of forced marriage as the most common form of gender-based violence in the conflict-affected communities. The protracted displacement in the Bangsamoro region has resulted in a number of child marriage cases, as it appears to be one of the negative coping mechanisms of the families temporarily sheltering at evacuation centers, due to economic instability, fear of violence, and a felt need to maintain ‘family honor’.

Programs and research conducted by Plan International show that there are many complex and interrelated drivers and consequences of child marriage. Many of which are rooted in gender inequalities and harmful gender norms that devalue women and girls, normalize gender-based violence, and perpetuate patriarchal ideas on control of women and girls’ sexuality.

All these I have presented are just the tip of the iceberg of a bigger and more complex situation of our women and girls in the region. We ask- why are these happening? What could be the gaps and challenges in the work that we do in ensuring the empowerment and participation of women and their protection from violence and abuse? Let me point out some of the gaps and challenges.

Number 1. On the implementation of gender and development.

The COVID-19 has affected the delivery of targets and commitments of ministries, offices and local government units under their respective GAD plans and budgets. The restriction on mobility prevented the actual implementation of services and activities designed to reduce gender gaps and address gender inequalities.

Included in the programs and activities not implemented are advocacy and awareness raising among leaders and policy and decision-makers who apparently have less understanding and appreciation of GAD. To ensure effective and efficient implementation of GAD, we must have the full support and buy-in of top management.

Another deliverable affected by COVID-19 is the lobbying for the passage of the Bangsamoro GAD Code. The GAD code reflects the GAD agenda of the Bangsamoro Regional Government which was developed in accordance with the evolving context and emerging issues in the region. Technically, the code sets the basis and authority for GAD planning and budgeting of ministries, offices and local government units.

Number 2. On the Protection of Women and Children from Violence

Despite the laws penalizing rape and other forms of violence against women, incidents of VAWC is still prevalent and increasing. During a focus group discussion, the PNP stated that one of the factors that seem to encourage perpetrators to commit such crime is the practice of allowing settlement of cases even when the same are already reported to the police, or filed before the prosecution or court. Dismissal of cases because the victims are no longer interested result to no conviction. This gives perpetrators impunity.

Protection of victims during the pendency of their cases are not also guaranteed. The government has no safety and security programs and services for victim-survivors of VAWC and GBV. Victims will normally feel threatened and afraid to report and file a case.

And Finally, On Women, Peace and Security

The UN Women and UNFPA have proactively supported the Bangsamoro Women’s Commission in terms of localizing the 2nd Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security among the BARMM agencies, Local Government Units (provinces and municipalities) and also among the civil society organizations.  In a mapping exercise conducted in April this year, it showed that the CSOs and NGOs had already implemented and documented various approaches and strategies related to Women, Peace and Security in the BARMM.

The top 3 most important priorities of the various stakeholders  that localized the RAP-WPS are:

  • Judicious use of the 5% Gender and Development (GAD) funds across all LGUs and agencies and full harmonization of both GAD and WPS activities therein;
  • Establishment and full functionality of the Gender-Responsive Early Warning and Early Response Mechanisms among communities most affected by conflict with full integration of women into peace and order councils from the BARMM region down to the barangays, and;
  • Access and sustainable support to community women on gender equality, Women’s Economic Empowerment and social entrepreneurship opportunities, linking them with appropriate agencies with funding and budgets to livelihood support as an essential recovery approach to COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving forward, I, in behalf of all the Bangsamoro women, call for the following:

  1. Fast-tracking of the passage of the Bangsamoro Gender and Development Code;
  2. Awareness raising and capacity building interventions for top management, policy and decision-makers on gender and development;
  3. Improve access to educational assistance and livelihood opportunities for women and girls;
  4. Enhance the participation of women, including former female combatants, in the Bangsamoro transition, normalization processes, governance and peace and security mechanisms;
  5. Strengthen enforcement of laws on GBV and VAWC and recommend disciplinary measures against Barangay officials and local leaders who encourage and will facilitate settlement of rape cases especially when victims are minors;
  6. Ensure availability of a comprehensive multi-sectoral response (health, social services, safe and security, justice and legal aid) where gender-based violence victims-survivors can access immediate, safe and confidential life-saving interventions across the region; and
  7. Cascading and roll-out of the fatwa on the Model Family in Islam by integrating it in the family development sessions of the MSSD and in the Khutba during Friday prayer;

As I make this call, I also call on our partners from the international community, civil society, ministries and offices, local government units, Muslim Religious Leaders, security sector and the Bangsamoro communities. Let us sustain our partnership, continue working together to create a safe and supportive environment for preventing GBV and creating positive new behaviors and norms for our women and girls. Let us end violence against women.

Thank you and Shukran

Wabillahi Taufiq Walhidayah

Wassallamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu