The Philippines ranks 19th out of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2022. The said report generated by the World Economic Forum monitors the progress of countries in attaining gender parity based on economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

Although the Philippines is the only Asian country included in the top 20, the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 shows that the country dropped from the 10th spot in 2017.

To intensify its campaign for gender equality particularly among its women clienteles, the Department of Agriculture in Bicol Gender and Development Focal Point System (DA-Bicol GAD FPS) conducted the Bicol Women’s Day celebration on March 8, 2023 in Calabanga, Camarines Sur. Rural women-leaders, Agri-Pinay and GREAT Women Project 2 beneficiaries as well as members of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) and the Regional Agricultural and Fishery Council (RAFC) Women and Youthpreneur Sectoral Committee and Naga Independent Component City AFC (ICCAFC) attended the activity.

DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA ACPC) Gender and Development Focal Person Emmalyn J. Guinto who represented DA ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma Badiola graced the occasion.

“Kaisa ang DA ACPC sa pagbibigay-pugay sa mga kababaihang magsasaka, mangingisda, at agripreneurs. Bukod sa inyong mahalagang tungkulin sa inyong mga pamilya bilang asawa o nanay na nagsisilbing ilaw ng tahanan, napakahalaga din ng inyong kontribusyon sa food security ng ating bansa. Sana ay maging makabuluhan ang aming mga programa upang mapabuti pa ninyong lalo ang inyong mga buhay. Tulong-tulong nating palakasin ang mga kababaihan sa agri-fishery sector para sa sama-samang pag-unlad,” she said.

One of the highlights of the activity was the Agri Fast Talk featuring Financial Assistance for Women in Agriculture and Fisheries or Agri-Pinay beneficiaries Bernadette De Los Santos, Kimberly Baluzo and Marilyn Haya who shared their experiences and insights in availing the Agri-Pinay, a credit program of the DA ACPC that offers no-collateral and zero-interest, loan worth P25,000 to P100,000 payable for five years. The program benefits women farmers, fisherfolk and entrepreneurs whose livelihoods were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic greatly affected my enterprise in that the cancellation costs me around a quarter of a million. But then, there was Agri-Pinay so we were afforded an opportunity na makabangon,” De Los Santos narrated.

At first po, nagdadalawang-isip din ako kasi kulang tayo sa kapital and with this, nabiyayaan po ako and being one of the chosen beneficiaries of Agri-Pinay naging malaking tulong po talaga para magtuloy-tuloy ‘yung negosyo and at the same, ma-achieve ko ‘yung gino-goal ko rin po as a young entrepreneur,” Baluzo related.

“Salamat sa tulong ni Agri-Pinay nakabangon po ako. Hanggang sa ngayon po, lalong lumalakas po ang benta ko sa Dilis Delights,” Haya said.

In line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” the participants were oriented on various tools for digital agriculture.

Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Project Development Officer Ralph Spencer Talagtag lectured on Digital App for Farmers. He enumerated several farm management applications and their features including the Smarter Pest Identification Technology (SPIDTECH), Minus One Element Technique (MOET) App, eDamuhan, which contains weed management information; Binhing Palay, a catalog of released rice varieties in the Philippines; and the AgRiDOC App, a farm management app designed for Filipino rice-based farmers.

Meanwhile, De Los Santos shared some tips on Social Media Marketing. She underscored the value of having a smartphone, optimizing social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram as marketing tools, and using subtle suggestions to sell one’s products.

Moreover, Young Farmers Challenge 2022 National Finalist Mark Vincent Talento and Microgreens Plant Nursery owner Engr. Dulce Maria Abegail Jastio shared their knowledge, ideas and projects on Technology Innovation.

As part of the activity, the DA-Bicol GAD FPS also facilitated the on-site registration for the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA), National Coconut Farmers Registry System (NCFRS) and Civil Society Organization (CSO) accreditation. Agri-Pinay and GREAT Women Project 2 beneficiaries also participated in the mini agri-trade fair dubbed as Juana Buy or Sell. Moreover, the DA-Bicol GAD FPS sponsored the Juana Speak Up on Women Empowerment contest.

DA Bicol GAD FPS Vice Chairperson Aloha Gigi Bañaria thanked the participants for actively supporting the region’s GAD activities. She also encouraged them to apply as members of their respective Provincial/City/Municipal Agricultural and Fishery Councils (PAFCs) to amplify women’s voices in policy development.

Pursuant to Proclamation No. 227, series of 1988 signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino, March is observed as Women’s Role in History Month. This annual celebration launches a new recurring theme from this year to 2028: WE for gender equality and inclusive society. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Photo Credits: Hermito Antonio T. Privaldos, DA RAFIS V