By Imee Aguillon
A tireless woman leader, Edna Azoque has been serving her community in the past eleven years. She was elected as barangay (village) councilor, and President of the KALIPI women’s organization in Barangay Cawayan (KALIPI-Cawayan), and a loving mother of three children. She has aspirations for women, believing that they must be recognized and heard. She feels that women can contribute a lot to the community’s well-being and progress.
Before taking on a leadership role, Edna observed that there are issues in her community that need to be addressed such as “improper waste disposal that is now polluting our surroundings, affecting our natural resources and even polluting our air, water and food”.
Edna participated actively in Haribon’s Enhancing the Role of Women in Protected Area Governance for Social Change Project or Women Go funded by the European Union. She helped mobilize the women of Barangay Cawayan and re-activate the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI) Brgy. Cawayan women’s organization.
Prior to the Women Go project, KALIPI-Cawayan only meets once a year to attend the Women’s Month celebration in March. Through the assistance of the Women Go team, Edna helped in establishing regular meetings to discuss and formulate measures to strengthen their organization. Presently, they were able to formulate their group’s vision, mission, and goals as well as their constitution and by-laws. These are the initial documents that will help them register as a formal people’s organization with a national agency.
Asked why Edna is pursuing such a difficult task of organizing women in their communities, she expressed that, “Naniniwala ako na mayroon pa akong magagawa maliban sa pagiging Nanay sa loob ng bahay at ito ay ang makibahagi sa usapang pagpapaunlad ng mga kababaihan at ambag sa lipunan.” (I believe I can be more than a mother. I want to be part of women’s development and contribute more to society.)
Edna highlights that the recent Participatory Situational Analysis (PSA) Facilitator’s Training for Local Leaders through the Women Go project, further improved the flow of formal meetings, developed the membership, and put together the registration and accreditation of the organization. She realized that as a leader she needs to ensure that the “organization has good leadership. In starting an organization, members should recognize the importance of the organization and how their concerns will be addressed. Leaders must understand the background of each member and to help them with a common platform that addresses issues and empower them with the knowledge of their basic rights.”
Having been recently trained as a local PSA facilitator for Barangay Cawayan through the project, she shared that the Women Go support have enhanced her confidence, improved here abilities in analyzing and processing the current situation of their community, especially women, and recognized other institutions that can help address their concerns as well as provide complementary support to their identified projects and programs for women.
“I would like to encourage women to open their minds, that aside from doing household chores and taking good care of our families, we can do more to help make changes in our community and ensure a better future for our children,” Edna insisted.
Learn more about the Women Go project here.