No women’s organization has historically been a member of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in Presidential Proclamation No. 1636 (P.P. 1636) in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range even though women are major users of forest and natural resources. HARIBON’s Women Go project is changing that.
Since 2020, the Women Go project has been making impactful strides, increasing the influence of rural women in natural resource and protected area (PA) governance. In partnership with the European Union, this conservation project is shifting perceptions and revolutionizing social change in its stakeholders’ communities in profound ways.
Known as the backbone of Luzon with vast stretches of mountains spanning more than 500 km and breaking the winds of supertyphoons, the Sierra Madre Mountain Range is home to both people and wildlife uniquely found in our country like the Philippine Eagle, the Philippine Brown Deer, the White Lauan, and the Tayabak or commonly known as the Jade Vine.
The Women Go project site is in Presidential Proclamation (PP) No. 1636, a protected wildlife sanctuary under the initial component of the E-NIPAS Law and situated along the terrains of the Sierra Madre Mountains within the provinces of Quezon, Rizal, Laguna, and Bulacan.
The importance of women leaders in P.P. 1636
The mountain range and its protected areas provide vast resources that secure the survival of local communities and indigenous people. This survival is largely in part because of women who are the traditional caretakers of the family, ensuring that there is enough food, fuel, and water for all members. However, while women are involved in making majority of the decisions involving forest and natural resources in their own families and communities in P.P. 1636, and civil society participation in PA governance is enshrined in the Extended National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 (Republic Act 7586), women’s voices rarely heard in decision-making bodies such as the PAMB.
This lack of women’s representation in environmental discussions places them in a vulnerable position. At the same time, it is also an injustice for other members of society like them who play influential roles in the informal structures within the family and local community or barangay. This makes their participation an imperative in managing environmental risks for the sustenance of the ecosystem that give life to their families and build their resilience towards the impacts of climate change.
Gender mainstreaming activities are vital to normalizing women’s participation and their acceptance in three levels: family, community/barangay (village), and the PAMB.
Women as change agents
Women Go has been changing this gender disparity for the past four years. The project has been consistent in its activities to increase the influence of rural women in PA governance and enhance their role as change agents and decision-makers in communities. These women now understand their inherent worth and have consistently grown their skills to represent, engage, understand, and assert their rights in PA management.
By 2024, the women will have invaluable contributions in leading sustainable Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) projects, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR programs), and biodiversity-friendly livelihood, and have at least one (1) women’s group become an active member of the PAMB. The project empowers women not only for ensuring their family and community’s well-being, but also in managing natural resources including managing environmental risk, reducing vulnerabilities, and improving climate resiliency.
HARIBON’s interventions through the project include:
- Lobbying for women groups’ accreditation and inclusion in the Protected Area Management Board
- Setting up and implementing women-led Nature-based Solutions including E-Tanim projects that promote community resiliency and sustainable livelihoods through Biodiversity-Friendly Enterprises (BDFEs)
- Enhancing knowledge and skills through the implementation of the Protected Area Governance (PAG) Women Training Plan; and
- Supporting women groups through organizational strengthening and development
P R O J E C T M I L E S T O N E S
PA Management & Accreditations
Seven (7) organizations/federations are now registered with government registering institutions. Nine (9) organizations/federations are now also accredited or recognized by their respective barangay/municipal local governments.
From being virtually inactive, HARIBON’s Women Go project have transformed these women groups into having systems in place that allow for consistent improvement in plans and strategies, thereby improving their situation and the environment's.
The women organizations are:
- Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI)
- KALIPI Federation of Infanta
- KALIPI of Brgy. Gumian, Infanta
- KALIPI of Brgy. Magsaysay, Infanta
- KALIPI Federation of General Nakar
- KALIPI of Sitio Cablao, Brgy. Pagsangahan, General Nakar
- KALIPI Federation of Real
- KALIPI of Brgy. Cawayan, Real
- KALIPI of Brgy. Tanuan, Real
- Kilos Unlad ng Mamayan ng Real, Inc. (KUMARE)
These organizations include:
- Five (5) barangay-based women organizations
- One (1) local all-women organization with members in:
- Six (6) municipalities in Quezon
- Three (3) municipal -wide federations of women organizations.
This accreditation by local decision-making bodies is pivotal in creating a solid foundation for HARIBON’s efforts to ensure people empowerment and sustainable solutions to biodiversity conservation. Their recognition as legitimate organizations accorded them seats in their respective local development councils and people’s councils, giving them privilege to bring women’s concerns and issues to the forefront of planning and decision-making, while enabling access to funds for planned programs.
Because the project empowers women to understand their value in nurturing the health of their families, their communities, and their forests, they have shown active participation, time, and attention to the Women Go! Team, which have been crucial to the project’s key accomplishments.
Protected Area (PA) Management Commitments
All nine (9) women organizations are now strongly committed to pursuing forest and PA conservation programs integral to their Strategic Plans. In addition, (4) women organizations have completed their Local Conservation Agreements (LCAs) which shows their dedication as this fastens their ability to conduct forest and PA conservation activities and ensure biodiversity-friendly enterprises.
Protected Area Governance (PAG) Women Training in Gender and Development (GAD), Environmental Leadership and Organizational Management (ELOM), Biodiversity-Friendly Enterprises, and Basic Life Skills (BLS)
Among HARIBON’s anchors in biodiversity conservation and societal development is encouraging sustainability, and the institution has achieved this in its projects time and time again through upskillingits stakeholders so that long-term change is inevitable. The Women Go project is no different.
The Protected Area Governance (PAG) Women Training Plan equipped over 100 women leaders with the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude (KSA) to transform them into competent environmental conservation leaders.
Select members of the nine (9) women groups have completed two (2) foundational courses:
- Gender and Development in Protected Area Governance (GAD in PA) by 89 women and
- Environmental Leadership and Organizational Management (ELOM) by 85 women
Women Go leaders set up nine (9) Biodiversity Friendly Enterprises (BDFEs. Through these BDFEs, the organizations can now provide their members with access to better income opportunities and build their organization’s fund to support programs and activities.
It also enhanced women’s capacity to network and gain external support for their BDFE projects through the completion of their Business Plans and Business Proposals ready to present to potential funding partners.
At the end of 2022, because of their increased ability to network and gain external support for their BDFE projects from potential funders, one (1) corporate partner (Quezon II Electric Cooperative Inc.) donated additional seed fund to the KALIPI Gumian organization for their Coco Jam business!
This allowed them to formulate their own GAD plans addressing women’s concerns and issues in forest and Protected Area concerns, in turn giving them the capacity to ask support from their local governments through concrete and comprehensive actions.
A course that has been instrumental in turning women’s perspectives from powerless to powerful is the Basic Life Skills (BLS) course. 66 women members/leaders are transformed after learning essential life and leadership skills, giving them the confidence to pursue their personal desires, as well as dreams for their families and communities.
As of August 15, 2023, the following courses have been completed:
- 130 finished Basic Ecology, Philippine Biodiversity, and Environmental Laws
- 89 finished Gender and Development in Protected Areas (GAD in PA)
- 85 finished Environmental Leadership and Organizational Management; and
- 66 finished the Basic Life Skills (BLS)
Protected Area Management Board
As the project’s main objective, Women Go staunchly lobbied for women’s representation within the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) membership. While this did not come without its challenges and the necessary steps to ensure that the women groups are ready to lead their sector, the project is nearing the fulfillment of this goal. During the PAMB’S 2nd quarterly meeting this year, the application of the KUMARE women’s organization was received and discussed.
The representation and membership of a women’s group within the PAMB is vital to safeguard their rights and voices and make certain of the decision-making body’s gender–responsiveness.
Three KALIPI women Federations of Real, Infanta, and General Nakar also applied to be members of the Agos Watershed Management Council.
- KALIPI Infanta
- KALIPI General Nakar
From Limitation to Participation
HARIBON has been traversing challenges to change the traditional norms that the rural women from P.P. 1636 are in by increasing their level of influence in protected area (PA) governance. From playing the traditional role as their family’s caretakers, the nine (9) women groups of Real, Infanta, and General Nakar, Quezon are now women leaders, trained, confident, and working to ensure that they are actively participating and taking part in providing gender-responsive and inclusive nature-based solutions to address climate change and natural disasters.
By the end of 2023, the Women Go project will complete its goals through:
- Mentoring and coaching during regular organizational meetings of the women groups
- Partnerships building, skills training, and monitoring to ensure success and sustainability of the Biodiversity Friendly Enterprises
- Completion of nature-based solutions (NBS) training to 9 women organizations and implementation of 4 NBS projects in the communities showing their importance in environmental management
- Project Sustainability Planning through partnerships with MASIPAG, NQCI, LGUs, and DENR ensuring project continuity with project initiatives like monitoring and interventions catered by these partners
From its inception until its completion, the project is continuously supporting women so that they can significantly contribute to their communities in leading sustainable programs on climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and livelihood.
By strengthening women individually and collectively through readying even their organizations in managing environmental risk, reduce vulnerabilities, and improve climate resiliency, the future is positive for both their families and communities’ well-being.
Sign up to HARIBON’s newsletter or follow @goharibon on social media for more updates on the #WomenGo Project.
The Women Go Project is made possible by European Union