May 24, 2011 – The Women Peacemakers, namely, Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice Deputy Director Dr. Dee Aker, Women Peacemakers Program Officer Ms. Jennifer Freeman, and 2005 Woman Peacemaker Ms. Thavory Hout from Cambodia are currently on a visit to the Philippines from May 19 – 27, 2011 to meet with the IMT-CPC-MPC Women, the International Monitoring Team and other partners in peace and civilian protection work, in order to share and learn strategies and on the ground experiences on how women in the conflict affected areas can effectively assert and operationalize the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSC 1325).
They are joined by 2010 Woman Peacemaker Ms. Merlie “Milet” Mendoza, CPC-MPC Coordinator Ms. Analiza Ugay (also of Balay Rehabilitation Center), and fellow Woman Peacemaker Atty. Mary Ann Arnado of MPC.
In solidarity with the recently launched “All Women Contingent in the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team,” these women peacemakers from Cambodia and the United States started off their Philippine visit with a solidarity launch of the IMT-CPC-MPC Women Cotingent in Manila last May 20, 2011. The launching was held at Miriam College in Quezon City and was attended by members of the diplomatic community, members of the International Monitoring Team 6 led by Head of Mission Major General Mahdi Bin Yusof, GPH peace panel representatives led by panel member Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, Armed Forces of the Philippines led by Peace Process Office Chief Col. Dickson Hermoso, some Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and international NGOs. The Women Peacemakers warmly welcomed the opportunity to personally engage with the IMT and the women involved in the CPC—to learn from their experiences and help build their competencies.
Among the speakers, Dr. Dee Aker highlighted how women’s participation in peace processes and humanitarian work “deliver a fuller security picture” and helps provide a “new framework for dispute resolution,” coming from their common strength and ability of hearing and addressing the grievances of all stakeholders involved. Prof. Ferrer reinforced her statement by sharing her own observation on how there are now major changes among key players in the peace process – pointing out that conflict is no longer viewed as merely military in nature, but with social, political and gender components.
Froilyn Mendoza, a Teduray CPC Women Contingent member from South Upi, shared her own experiences and those of her fellow CPC Women from other protection sites in Central Mindanao. Heartwarming stories of women in different cultural contexts who overcame initial resistance from their own families and communities, to later gain overwhelming respect, admiration and support from the same people who used to doubt their capacity.
The three military men — IMT Head of Mission Maj. Gen. Yusof, Brig. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, Chair of the GPH CCCH, and Col. Hermoso of the AFP — also expressed their support to the Women Peacemakers and CPC-MPC Women as well as shared their efforts on monitoring and civilian protection that is in line with the human security framework that was mentioned by Dr. Aker and Prof. Ferrer.
A day after the launch, the Women Peacemakers and the CPC Women flew straight to Davao—the first stop in the Mindanao leg of their visit. They are scheduled to visit the Mothers for Peace of the Talaandig tribe in Songco, Lantapan, Malaybalay Bukidnon to learn about Traditional Conflict Resolution; the Bantay Ceasefire and CPC Women in Aleosan protection site, North Cotabato; go on a community Visit in Pagatin, Datu Saudi Ampatuan; have a forum with Moro Women; have some courtesy calls with military camps and a meeting with the International Monitoring Team in their field office.