The overall goal of Women Go is to increase the level of influence of rural women in protected area (PA) governance to create social change. Specifically, the project team envisions women within PP 1636 developing their roles as change agents and decision-makers both in their homes, communities, and forest and protected area governance. It has been imperative for the project team to establish women’s voices and knowledge playing a vital role to effective and sustainable protection and management of PAs, which has been one of the most important foundations for the project’s success.
This focus on women’s role in conservation has been well-appreciated by its beneficiaries for there has not been an organization representing women at the PAMB in PP 1636 since the creation of the management board, although the participation of civil society in PA governance is included in the National Integrated Protected Areas (NIPAS) System Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7586) and this allows all eligible organizations to be members. Together with nine (9) women organizations in the REINA (Real, Infanta, General Nakar), Quezon, Women Go has been facilitating gender mainstreaming activities that effectively increased the participation of women in three levels: family, community, barangay (village), and the PAMB.
- Two (2) agenda or programs must be supported by local authorities / PAMB
- A woman’s organization must become a member of the PAMB
- A PAMB committee/s must include women’s concerns and issues within the PA
A follow up was made in late 2022 during an informal communication with a Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) staff, which revealed that the PAMB membership will be reviewed based on the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) and that they will require resubmission of application requirements. KUMARE complied with the lacking requirements and their application is currently pending call for membership deliberation by the PENRO and CENRO.
Women Go team and KUMARE have been doing periodic follow-ups on the application and keep raising it during the succeeding PAMB meetings. Meanwhile, significant advances to include the women sector in other management committees was achieved through the project as well.
By 2023, the women’s achievements include:
- One (1) newly formed PAMB committee on community concerns include women’s issues and concerns
- Membership in Agos River Management Council (KALIPI Infanta, KALIPI General Nakar and KUMARE)
- Several other memberships in their respective barangay or municipal development councils or local committees in their respective communities and LGUs
- KUMARE women’s group attended two or 50% of the regular quarterly meetings and one special meeting as observers. Sponsored by HARIBON, women leaders of both KALIPI and KUMARE also attended a special PAMB meeting in February 2022 to present their BDFE projects. KUMARE raised their question once again on the status of their application for PAMB membership in the same meeting. Currently, these meetings are still male-dominated, and no women’s organization represents the sector.
- There are now at least three (3) women-led conservation programs supporting PA management, which have been adopted by the communities.
The year 2022 and 2023 saw its fair share of accomplishments in the Women Go project, but the journey continues. Organizing women and building their abilities to collectively represent, engage, understand, and assert their rights in PA governance require a multitude of trainings and the cooperation of various stakeholders, not only the recipients of the project. This speaks no less of the process of obtaining a seat at the PAMB table and officially becoming a member and representing women in PA discussions.
Still, both the Women Go team and the women of PP 1636 remain optimistic and persistent because participation in the PAMB will give women the opportunity to examine the PA Management Plan, include women’s concerns and perspectives, and make sure that their voices hold much more weight in environmental decisions concerning the mountains and forests that their families and communities depend on.
The Women Go project is made possible by the European Union in the Philippines, with the support of the Municipality of Real, Municipality of Infanta, Municipality of General Nakar, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Community Environment & Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) Real.