MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Women representation in the peace processes. By Samira Ali Gutoc

"Muslim women are not seen and heard. It is important to hear them for genuine peace ," former chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) , de Dios said.

Beyond local realities, Muslim women are also facing the danger of a possible conflict in case the GRP-MILF (Government of the Republic of the Philippines – Moro Islamic Liberation Front) talks fail when armed elements may resort to violence .

UN Resolution 1325  guarantees women’s participation in the peace processes.

The Philippines is currently engaging the MILF, whose talks are on an impasse on territorial claims and constitutional processes.

In response, Muslim women representing extreme sides of the ideological fence from the traditionalist Middle-East educated religious professionals to liberal-minded progressive left-leaning feminists came together for an Interfaith Dialogue on Peace and Human Rights in the Islamic City of Marawi this weekend.

The women passed a resolution endorsing female representation  in the GRP-MILF Peace Talks within the Government Negotiating Panel and the MILF Negotiating Panel.

One of the forum participants was former goverment panel member  Emily Marohombsar, former president of the Mindanao State University who was willing to accept the endorsement if formalized before government.

Former Senator Santanina Rasul will carry the endorsement to Malacanang.

The lone Muslim lady elected to the Senate, Rasul spoke of the critical role of women in interfaith dialogue as they are "natural leaders, nurturers, carers." A success story she shared was the Sulu Women’s Group , which for the past five years has organized radio program that promotes peace by tackling daily concerns  of women.

A local woman organizer encouraged women to be pro-active and vigilant in the peace process. "We are much affected when there is war. We are the house keepers and economic managers, healers, rehabilitation workers," said Dipunudun Maruhom of the Gender and Development Advocates.

"Islam respects gender equality. The Quran upholds womens political and civic participation. Women have a stake in the peace process," said former Dean Hamid Barra , a resource person on Islam and Women's Rights.

Action-plans included celebrating Muslim women's role during Women's Month in March, Peace research to include Muslim children's rights, Module on Gender, Islam, Peace and Women, Forum on a Gender Element in the GRP-MILF Peace Process, educating Muslim women on their rights, among others.  (My, My, My Marawi is Samira Gutoc-Tomawis' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira describes herself as a "freelance writer, peace advocate, artist-wannabe, co-convenor of the Young Moro Professionals Network. She has many Pakistani friends, having studied at the Philippine School in Saudi Arabia. In 2002, she went to Oxford Center for Islamic Studies for a study fellowship. You can reach her at [email protected])

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