The Mindanao Peoples' Caucus (MPC), a Davao City-based peace advocacy group, considered Monday's launching of the women contingent in the Civilian Protection Component (CPC) of Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) a breakthrough.
This is also a first time that Bangsamoro women, lumad women and Christian settlers joined their efforts, regardless of race and religion, to protect peace in Mindanao.
For Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), it is historic to see women “move to the front and center of the peace process.”
“From rape and displacement, to the denial of the right to food and health care, women bear more than their fair share of the suffering caused by war. But women who know the price of conflict so well are also often better equipped than men to prevent or resolve it,” said Deles.
Women, according to the OPAPP secretary, are “brave and their courage has no limits.”
The establishment of a women contingent in Mindanao's peace process was inspired by the first all-women peacekeeping contingent that the United Nations sent to Liberia in 2007.
According to Deles, the women contingent has significantly brought down incidences of rape and other forms of sexual harassment in Liberia.
Deles has shown appreciation to the MPC for rising to this challenge as they embark on their days as peacekeepers.
Thirty women, six each from five conflict areas in Mindanao, took their oath of office Monday as members of the CPC of the IMT.
They are based at Aleosan town in North Cotabato, site of the August 11, 2008 wars that displaced hundreds of thousands of villagers from the province and nearby towns in Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Women corps will also be deployed in different field sites in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte; Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and Davao.
MPC secretary-general Atty. Mary Ann Arnado said one of the requirements to become part of the women contingent is their active involvement in peace advocacy in their respective communities.
“We note with great interest that the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the CPC under Article I (8) has adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 1325 and Resolution 1820 as part of its references. We consider this a breakthrough in our advocacy effort to institutionalize UNSC 1325 and a golden opportunity to promote the meaningful participation of women in peace and security processes, particularly in the areas of civilian protection, human rights and relief and rehabilitation efforts,” said Arnado.
The public launch of the MPC Women Corps to the CPC was witnessed by Secretary Deles, Brig. Gen. Datuk Baharom Bin Hamza, head of the International Monitoring Team, and Cotabato Governor Lala Talinio-Mendoza.