The law mandates that at least 5% of the budget of government agencies and NGOs should be spent on Gender and Development (GAD) programs. Unfortunately, because of lack of knowledge, it is misused, underspent, or not used at all.
GAD, however, is not just a matter of budget. It also ensures that there is gender equality and gender equity. This is what the PCBI learned and hopes to apply in its commitment to uplift the Philippine coffee industry, its advocacy for 15 years and counting.
LEARNING AND SHARING GENDER TOPICS
PCBI is lucky because its women leaders have been exposed to the relevance of gender. Director Kumala Sug-Elardo led her community in a gender sensitivity seminar conducted by the Department of Agrarian Reform in 2016. In 2017, she and PCBI Communications Officer Gold Quetulio attended a Gender Focal Points meeting in Samal, along with other NGO MinPACT partners of ACDI/VOCA.
While the women of PCBI are at the forefront of learning all these, the application needs to be strengthened. This is where ACDI/VOCA once again stepped in through Monitoring and Evaluation Manager and Gender Advisor Mercideta Pacio-Valdez and Gender Specialist Mary Fe Arquiza. The speakers made sure that PCBI’s gender knowledge and skills are reviewed and strengthened. For five whole days, they discussed: Gender First, Gender Laws, Power and Privilege, Gender Mainstreaming in Cooperatives and Organizations, and Gender in Value Chains.
Up-to-date statistics conducted by local and foreign agencies showed the gender gap on access to land, agricultural training, inputs, tools and technologies, credits, and markets. Participants learned useful definition of terms and were invited to share their opinions and experiences on relevant topics like gender roles, gender issues, and using gender-fair language.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT WOMEN
As these topics were unraveled, the participants realized the glaring truth: most women and girls are disadvantaged, vulnerable, marginalized, and discriminated. The change has to start with them so they can influence their family, their community, and through PCBI, their country. This also includes respecting the rights of men and seeking out male champions.
CLOSING THE GENDER GAP
“The project’s vision is to create equitable and sustainable opportunities for women and men. It’s also in support of government directives such as the Magna Carta of Women and the Guidelines on Mainstreaming Gender and Development in Cooperatives,” explained Pacio-Valdez.
Learning about gender is a big help in PCBI’s advocacy. Next comes the challenge of making sure it is understood, appreciated, and, most important of all, applied.