“We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations.” -Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director

To advocate gender equality and inclusivity for women and girls, particularly among its women clienteles, the Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol highlighted its Bicol Rural Women’s Day 2024

celebration with a stakeholders’ consultation to address issues and concerns affecting women in the agriculture and fishery sector.

DA Bicol Gender and Development Focal Point System (FPS) headed by Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PMED) Chief and GAD FPS RFO V Vice Chairperson Aloha Gigi Bañaria led the activity on March 8, 2024 in Magarao, Camarines Sur. About 130 rural women-leaders, Search for Outstanding Rural Women (SORW) regional and national winners, Young Farmers Challenge (YFC) winners, Agri-Pinay and GREAT Women project 2 beneficiaries as well as leaders of the Regional/Provincial/Municipal

Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC), 4-H Clubs, and Rural Improvement Club (RIC) attended the event.

The participants shared their respective inputs on commodity-based and value chain-oriented issues and constraints and proposed recommendations that will serve as inputs in formulating DA Bicol’s GAD agenda from 2024 to 2026. The RAFC Bicol Speakers Bureau (SB) composed of Mesdames Daisy Geolin, Rebecca S. Purisima and Fr. Granwell Pitapit facilitated the workshop together with DA technical staff while other RAFC SB members, RAFC Chair Bernadette de los Santos, Camsur Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CMPC) General Manager Annielen Panerio and Bañaria served as panelists.

Consistent with this year’s National Women’s Month sub-theme: Lipunang Patas sa Bagong Pilipinas: Kakayahan ng Kababaihan, Patutunayan! DA Bicol also conducted a panel discussion about GAD-related programs, projects and services of various national government agencies. DA Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) Senior Program Management Officer and GAD FPS member Paulo Antonio Rodriguez oriented the participants on the Agri-Pinay and Agri-Negosyo programs while Cora Marie Ann Nicolas, Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) Camarines Sur Provincial Coordinator and Sheryll M. Lofamia, Food Stamp Program Regional Program Coordinator of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) discussed the guidelines of the agency’s current programs. DA Bicol Plannin g and Evaluation Officer IV Mary Ann Cuya and Dr. Gina P. Nilo, Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Director, also shared relevant information about their agencies’ program interventions and services.

The event also marked the launch of the Search for Outstanding Rural Women 2024. DA Bicol invited some of the former SORW national winners namely 2017 National Outstanding Rural Woman (NORW) National Winner Rebecca S. Purisima, 2015 NORW National Winner Luzviminda T. Oropesa, 2013 NORW

1st runner-up Adelia Magsino, 2011 NORW National Winner Myrna Asor, 2023 NORW 5th Runner-up Vilma Coronel, and 2008 NORW 2nd place winner and RAFC Bicol Chairperson Bernadette De Los Santos to share their journey and to encourage their fellow rural women to join the competition.

Dr. Nilo, the first Lady Director of the DA BSWM graced the occasion. In her message, she underscored the value of men and women’s partnership and mutual respect to attain the vision of gender equality and an inclusive society.

“For us to attain gender equality, we, women should do our part in treating our male counterparts with respect even those who are above authorities over us. Walang pinipiling gender. Kailangan lang nating gawin ang ating tungkulin. Kailangan nating mag-show ng respect,” she said.

She also quoted Daniel 12:3 “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever,” to highlight the importance of developing good character and cultivating wisdom as women.

Moreover, she shared an overview of the BSWM’s Adaptive Balanced Fertilization Strategy (ABFS) and Capacity Enhancement on the Operations and Maintenance of Composting Facility for Biodegradable Waste (CFBW). Dr. Nilo then led the awarding of Certificate of Accreditation to the women-led FCA, Topas Sogod Farmers Association from Nabua, Camarines Sur and Certificates of Award of 400 heads of native chicken to two RICs namely the Sagrada RIC from Pili, Camarines Sur and San Jose RIC from Bula,

Camarines Sur as well as the Carolina 4H Club from Naga City.

The Bicol Rural Women’s Day kicked off with the Juana Zumba and Juana Buy or Sell showcasing various products of the Agri-Pinay, GREAT Women project 2 and YFC beneficiaries, LSA operators and some clienteles of National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA), and accredited civil society organizations (CSOs). The Agricultural Training Institute Regional Training Center (ATI-RTC) 5 Center Director Elsa Ani Parot, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director Ariel U. Pioquinto, and NMIS Regional Director Alex B. emplonuevo also attended the activity.

In her Closing Remarks, Bañaria thanked the participants for attending the event and for sharing their inputs during the stakeholders’ consultation. She also assured them that these shall be considered and incorporated in finalizing the GAD Agenda for 2024 to 2026. Moreover, she urged the participants to continue Bicol’s legacy of producing rural women champions.

March is observed as Women's Role in History Month in accordance with Proclamation No. 227, series of 1988, which was signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino. The annual event aims to amplify the 2023 to 2028 theme “WE for gender equality and inclusive society.” (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Photo Credits: Hermito Antonio Privaldos and DA RFO 5 PMED