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Cablegate: Mindanao Women Contributing to Peace

VZCZCXRO6319
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2303/01 1900748
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090748Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7318
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//FPA//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 002303

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KWMN EAID RP
SUBJECT: MINDANAO WOMEN CONTRIBUTING TO PEACE

REF: 06 MANILA 4558

1. (U) Summary. Civil society groups are actively contributing to
the peace process in Mindanao, including some impressive women's
organizations. The Mission continues its outreach to and support of
many such groups as part of our overall strategy of advancing the
peace process in Mindanao. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Bangsamoro Women's Foundation for Peace and Development
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (U) During a June 20-22 visit to Cotabato City with DCM
(septel), POL intern met with leaders of two key women's groups who
are actively promoting the peace process while supporting women's
empowerment in the region. The Bangsamoro Women's Foundation for
Peace and Development was established shortly after the 1996 peace
agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF). The Foundation, with about 17,000 members
throughout the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), works to
improve women's participation in politics and to better the lives of
women in Mindanao through livelihood enhancement programs and
employment assistance. In addition, its staff conducts trainings on
combating domestic violence and promoting gender sensitivity.

3. (U) The Foundation played a key role in identifying
beneficiaries for USAID's "LEAP" Program to reintegrate former MNLF
combatants over the past decade, as well as in contributing to the
Asia Foundation's Barangay/Municipal Planning and Budgeting Program
and a UNFPA-assisted maternal and child primary and reproductive
health care program.

4. (U) Currently, the Foundation is implementing a State
Department-funded project under EAP's Women's Issues Fund. The
US$64,000 project began in September 2006 and has organized women's
associations and cooperatives in ten of the more isolated
communities of the ARMM. The Foundation provides training and
technical assistance to these associations on economic livelihood,
financial management, and marketing skills. The project has a
second component devoted to women's empowerment and increased
political participation; the staff has conducted training for women
on leadership arbitration and mediation, gender development, women's
rights, and team building.

5. (U) The leaders of the Foundation reiterated that their larger
mission is to improve the prospects for peace and development in
Mindanao via increased women's participation in the political
process and to increase the economic independence of Muslim women in
the ARMM. While strongly supportive of a peace agreement between
the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) as the only way in which lasting peace and stability will
truly take root, they expressed little optimism that the two sides
can forge an accord very soon. They nonetheless voiced their
gratitude to the USG for our funding of their programs and for our
contributions to peace in Mindanao.

-------------------------------------
The Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum
-------------------------------------

6. (U) The Bangsamoro Women Solidarity Forum encourages greater
political awareness and participation of Bangsamoro women throughout
the ARMM, in recognition of the traditional under-representation of
women in ARMM politics. One of its core goals is to facilitate a
more active role for women in the ongoing peace talks between the
Philippine Government and the MILF; the Forum is an "official
observer" to these negotiations. The Forum has set up public fora
in major cities and towns within the ARMM not only to educate women
about the status of the ongoing talks but more importantly to hear
the opinions of Mindanao residents and give them a venue to raise
specific concerns.

7. (U) Forum officials also work to educate women on human rights
laws and to help them with legal issues, including a Human Rights
Education and Paralegal Training seminar in Jolo. Under the
umbrella of the Local Governance Support Program in the ARMM (LGSPA)
-- funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) --
the Forum is now taking part in post-May 14 election assessments in
the ARMM.

8. (U) Forum leaders expressed strong support for peace talks, which
they noted were an essential component in achieving durable peace
and development in Mindanao. However, they also noted doubts of a
final accord in the very near future. They have encouraged both
sides to take into full consideration the views of Mindanao's women
during the negotiations and in the post-accord era. They welcomed
international assistance in bringing greater peace and prosperity to
the people of Mindanao.

MANILA 00002303 002 OF 002

-------
Comment
-------

9. (SBU) Women throughout Mindanao have traditionally been
politically and economically disenfranchised, with a few notable
exceptions such as former Senator Santanina Tillah Rasul. Civil
society such as these women's groups is now actively contributing to
the peace process in Mindanao. The Mission continues its outreach
to and support of many such groups as part of our overall strategy
of advancing the peace process in Mindanao.

KENNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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