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Gender Differences, No More

Gender Differences, No More

Lanao del Norte — “Being a woman is not an issue anymore,” says 47-year- old Catherine P. Asi of Barangay Delabayan, Lanao del Norte, who believes that community development is more than a culture.

Catherine is a native Maranao of Barangay Delabayan, Kauswagan, Lanao Del Norte, and a mother of five; she became widowed in 1991 when her husband killed in an ambush that happened in their community.

After her husband’s death, Catherine’s life became a little difficult. Accustomed by their culture where only men can be considered as the head of the family and women are neither to decide nor are allowed to lead a group, she felt like an outcast, and cannot participate activities that men usually do,
for instance, in choosing a community leader or a political leader, normally only the husbands were given the opportunity to represent, while wives are just left at home to do the household chores and to care for the children.
Catherine did not find it easy raising her children with the culture she, her parents and husband have customarily practiced – until such time when she realized that she needed to go beyond traditions: to look for a job, even if it means outside the walls of her home.

Moving on

Catherine started to open herself to trainings and seminars, to learn more of what the world has to offer for her and her children.

Her participation in community organizing trainings including gender sensitivity seminars conducted by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) opened her eyes and started to change her views in life.

“Na-amguhan gyud nako nga ang babae ug lalaki parehas ra diay kung maghisgot ta ug oppurtunidad, dili sabton na porke lalaki ka ikaw ra naay katungod mo trabaho or mahimong lider”( I realized that women and men are the same or have an equal opportunity, it doesn’t mean that if you are a male you are the only one who has the right to work or to become a leader), Catherine says.
Last 2013, Catherine volunteered to be part in the implementation of Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services in their community, because she feels the need to continue her crusade in fighting poverty. Kalahi-CIDSS is a flagship anti-poverty program of the national government that empowers communities to be involved in development through community-driven development approach (CDD).

Driven the Community

After being exposed to different trainings in community development, she showed dedication and transparency to kalahi CIDSS, where eventually she earned the respect and trust of her fellow volunteers: she became one of their active community leaders.

“Dali ra nako mapasabot ug gapaminaw pud ang akong mga silingan nako tungod nakita nila kung gi unsa nako pagdala akong pamilya nga diin nahimo ako ug usa ka INA-TAY or isip inahan ug tatay” (“I can easily explain to my neighbors the goals of the program and they seem interested with what I have to say about it, perhaps because they saw me how I care for family, in which I am the mother at the same time stand as a father.”), says Catherine.
Despite not being able to finish school and having only reached grade six, Catherine has remained to be a great influence to her fellow volunteers – even the barangay chairman trusts her with her capability to the point that she represents the barangay, in behalf of the local leader, during government or non-government organization conferences.
“Wala koy pag duha-duha sa kapasidad ni Catherine mao nang basta naay invitation sa mga convention o seminar, siya gayud ang akong ginapadala, kay kabalo ko sa iyang didikasyon, mohatag ug mga pagtulon-an sa iyang nakat-onan sa iyang na apilan nga mga seminars (“I never doubt Catherine’s capabilities that is why every time there is an invitation of a seminar, I always recommend her to represent our barangay because I trust her dedication towards her work and she shared her learning’s from the training she attended”) Barangay Chairman Cosain Mananggolo said.

Women power

She learned through kalahi CIDSS that even after the program ends, she will continue to oversee the sub-project implementation, monitoring, maintenance, and its sustainability as well as promotion of gender participation.

Her determination, genuineness and dedication to lead the volunteers inspire other villagers to do more positive things that will help them improve their living condition. She makes herself as an example and an eye opener to everyone in the community/barangay that men and women are equal.

”Kung kaya sa lalaki ang pagpalambo sa komunidad, kaya pud nato mga babae (if men can lead a community to develop, so can we, women).”

Through her passion and conveying the spirit of volunteerism, Catherine received Kalahi CIDSS National Bayani Ka Award for promoting gender equality/advocacy.

Written by: Luis T. Arquiza, DSWD X

This post was written by:

- who has written 22 posts on DSWD Field Office X Official Website.


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