COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/12 December) – Women coming from internally displaced families in Cotabato City and Maguindanao have received “soft loans” through the Women’s Peace Fund as part of the peace-building effort in Mindanao’s conflict-affected areas.
The first batch of recipients, numbering 365, availed of two thousand pesos each. The recipients come from 73 women’s groups in Cotabato City and Maguindanao province.
The amount is intended for the small business enterprises chosen by the women’s groups in their respective communities, and entitles them to get a bigger loan if managed well.
“ It’s investment in peace, we aim to restore social capital by rebuilding trust and reciprocity among peoples and communities wracked by war, according to Irene Santiago of the Mindanao Commission on Women.
Women Peace Fund is an initiative of the Women’s Peace Table, a network of women who are known in the academe, government, media, and civil society.
The group said the Fund will make women and communities feel the presence of peace by engaging in livelihood projects while waiting for the final peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The two parties signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro on October 15 in Malacanang.
“Bangsamoro is trustworthy, it says what nation we are, what kind of country we are. This is about livelihood but it is also about building a nation,” Santiago explained.
MCW said their foremost concern is a secure environment where people may resume their economic activities which were disrupted by war. These livelihood projects are those that give the women daily income to meet the needs of their families.
Froilyn Mendoza, chairperson of Teduray-Lambangian women’s organization has chosen rice selling.
The store-cooperative, “Bigasan ng mga Kababaihan” is found in the hinterland of Hill 224, a community of Tedurays in the boundary of Datu Unsay and Datu Saudi Ampatuan towns in Maguindanao.
Mendoza said her business will enable people [in the community] to buy rice without having to walk far.
Another group of women who have babies to attend to has chosen to open a carenderia in San Pablo village in Cotabato City.
“We have been doing this before, but the good thing now is we are having an additional capital to expand our business. While cooking and selling viands we also attend to our babies while earning some money,” said Maricel Rodja.
Some other groups have chosen selling barbeque and vegetables, dressmaking and other activities.
At the moment, the group is working with round 130 women groups, and aims to raise hundreds of millions of pesos to reach at least 100 thousand women with the help different organizations. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)