Lessons learned. Inspiration gained. Commitment renewed. Cooperators from all over the Philippines converged on March 29-31, 2016 in Baguio City, Philippines,to talk about the important topic of gender and development (GAD) and gender equality (GE), and how the GAD approach to development and the ultimate objective of achieving GE weigh in on the social and economic development of co-ops. This was the “2nd National Summit on Gender and Development (GAD) in Co-ops” organized by the Gender Equality Resource Center (GERC)-Philippinesand Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), in partnership with the Asian Women in Cooperative Development Forum (AWCF) and in cooperation with the City Government of Baguio.

The Baguio Summit was attended by 914 delegates (633 female, 281 male) from 277 organizations (mainly primary co-ops, federations, unions, and co-op banks; and non-government/civil society organizations, national government agencies [NGAs], local government units [LGUs], co-op councils, the academe; and CDA and GERC.) Resource speakers came from co-ops and co-op federations that have mainstreamed GAD; and from LGUs, NGAs, and projects that are also conducting GAD mainstreaming activities, and also assisting cooperatives and also helpingwomen in communities become empowered and become entrepreneurs.

With Baguio as the venue, picturesque as it is being the “Summer Capital of the Philippines,” the Summit’s stage was fittingly bedecked with fresh flowers donated by these Baguio-Benguet-based co-ops:Bahong Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MPC), Benguet Fresh Produce MPC, and Mountain Blooms MPC. The flowers were arranged by the offices of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)-CDA and Cooperative Union of Baguio City (CUBC).The Summit’s solidarity night on March 30 was hosted by the Cordillera Administrative Regional Cooperative Development Council (CARCDC) and CUBC.  Other Baguio-Benguet co-ops that sponsored the Summit were: Benguet Provincial Cooperative Development Council (BPCDC), Baguio City Cooperative Development Council (BCCDC), Northwestern Luzon League of Cooperatives (NORWESLU), Timber and Lime MPC (TLMPC), Metro Baguio Ifugao Development Cooperative (MBIDC), Our Lady of Lourdes Parish MPC (OLLPMPC), Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Employees MPC, Balennay Cultural Performing Group (King’s College of the Philippines), and Benguet State University MPC. The AWCF and GERC partner co-ops and federations from all over the Philippines that supported the Summit were: Sta. Cruz Savings and Development Cooperative (SACDECO), Abra Diocesan Teachers and Employees MPC Cooperative (ADTEMPCO), Nueva Segovia Consortium of Cooperatives (NSCC), MSU-IIT National MPC (MSU-IIT National MPC), Tagum Cooperative (TC), Coopbank of Nueva Vizcaya, Tubao Credit Cooperative, and the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO).

Opening ceremonies

The Summit opened in the morning of March 30 with the prayer led by Dr. Evelia Sator, a co-op leader and GAD advocate; the singing of the National Anthem led by the Harana Singers; the delegates’ Cooperative Pledge, recited together with GAD advocates of different co-ops/co-op federation Ms. Carmel Neri, Mr. KennTenebroso, Ms. Flora May Catadman, and Dr. Evelia Sator; and the singing of the Cooperative Jingle and community song.

Welcome messages came from CDA Director for Cordillera Administration Region Atty. Franco Bawang; Member of the CDA Board of Administrator Mercedes Castillo; GERC President Salome Ganibe; AWCF Chairperson Kruewan Chonlanai (her message read by Ms. Ganibe); and Baguio City Councilor Engr. Isabelo Cosalan. Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan’s message was conveyed by his representative Mr. Rafael  Tallocoy.

Day 1—organizations/agencies/projects share GAD mainstreaming experiences

After the welcome messages, Ms Ganibe gave the delegates the backgrounder and introduction to the Summit. She reminded all that the first-ever Summit was held in Subic Bay, 2014, organized by AWCF and CDA. She oriented the delegates on the current Summit’s theme and objectives, being—
Theme: “Transforming Women and Men, and Cooperatives” (handout01)

Objectives: For women and men delegates of co-ops in the Philippines to—

•    be updated on the experiences of co-ops, national government agencies (NGAs), LGUs, and social enterprises on mainstreaming GAD in co-ops
•    assess how GAD is being integrated in the co-op sector and also the progress on the application of the “Declaration and Call for Action” of the first Summit held in Subic 2014
•    further understand the importance of GAD as a component of the social impact of co-ops
•    formulate firmer action points to mainstream—and sustain mainstreaming—GAD in co-ops and thereby attain GE that helps co-ops gain economic and social growth.

Ms. Fe D. Caingles, Director of CDA’s Institutional Development Department (IDD), relayed to the delegates the CDA’s framework, initiatives, and milestones on GAD. She explained CDA’s GAD initiatives, programs, and activities for 2016 in (client-focused) inspection and regulation of co-opsincluding the mainstreaming of GAD in co-ops; registration and regulation of co-ops; promotion and development of co-ops; expansion of co-op membership; research and development; advocacy and linkaging for co-ops; co-op training and development; and awards, recognition, and incentives for co-ops; and (organization-focused) institutional-building of the CDA, and development of regulatory tools and standards for co-ops.  (handout07)

Director Caingles also said that as of December 2015: There were 25,611 registered co-ops of which 10,425 submitted reports to CDA. The 10,425 co-ops had 7,654,316 members. Female members were 4,139,001 or 54%. Male members totaled 3,515,315 or 46%.

Of the 25,611 registered co-ops, 7,313 co-ops provided the number of composition of their Board, which is 53,447. Of this number, female members of the Board reached 21,336 or 40%. There were 32,111 men or 60% of Board members.

With these numbers, Ms Caingles challenged the Summit delegates in examining the quality of women’s participation in decision-making—if co-op policies and programs promote theempowerment of women as leaders and members. She asked if co-ops make a difference in the lives of women and men members in terms of participation in the economic and social affairs of the co-op. Do the women and men benefit equitably and fairly?

The topic of the progress of GE in co-ops in Asia-Pacific was presented by Ms. Emelina M. Santos, Head of the Member Relations and Networking Group of NATCCO, representing Ms. Ma. Elena C. Limocon, Vice Chairperson of the International Co-operative Alliance Asia Pacific (ICA AP) Women’s Committee; Member, Board of Trustees, AWCF; Member, Board of Directors, NATCCO; and General Manager, Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Cebu, Philippines. Ms Santos briefed the delegates on the ICA AP regional conference on status of women in co-ops, held in Pampanga, Philippines, in February 2016, hosted by NATCCO and other ICA members. It was the third such gathering after the first-ever one in 1996 and 2006, both in Tagaytay, Philippines.  She gave an overview on best practices, along with statistics, of GAD in NATCCO within the organization and as implemented in co-ops. She talked on the state of participation of women and co-ops in GAD in Asia Pacific. She cited data and inputs from experts in the region; and recommendations to further help women and men in co-ops, including their development together as cooperators.  (handout03)

Women as empowered entrepreneurs.  The experience of the “GREAT Women Project”was shared by Ms. Luzviminda Villanueva, the Project Manager of this undertaking of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).  PCW is the primary policy-making and coordinating body for women and gender equality in the Philippines. Ms Villanueva explained the importance of and the factors in women’s economic empowerment (WEE); the issues of women at work in the formal and informal sectors; and, of course, what the GREAT Women Project is all about, with “GREAT” meaning “Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women.” The Project’s first phase was in 2007-2013, and the second phase is in 2015-2020. (handout04)

Ms. Villanueva shared the lessons from the Project’s first phase: capacity-building is most effective if designed and planned for targeted results; it is best to engage businesses or private sector organizations that are willing to implement the principles of inclusive business; and women’s leadership programs are essential to any economic empowerment undertaking.

She said that co-ops have important roles as an enabler of women’s small business. Supporting WEE will lead to women’s improved economic condition; improved gender relations; women’s increased participation in local government planning and budgeting;increased awareness of women’s rights; increased women’s confidence in managing their business; and benefits gained by women micro-entrepreneurs (WMEs) become extended to families, other WMEs, and communities.

The topic of GAD programs, success, challenges, and opportunities for co-ops had two main presenters: Ms. Adeliza F. Gabalfin, Chief Agrarian Reform Program Officer, Bureau of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development (BARBD)-Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); and Ms Celia L. Atienza, Department Head of the Provincial Cooperative, Livelihood, and Enterprise Development Office (PCLEDO), Batangas Province.

Ms. Gabalfin of DAR explained the GAD issues and concerns in agrarian reform, which are the need to fully operationalize policies that ensure access and control of women over productive resources, and avoiding gender bias and discrimination; need to enhance the knowledge, skills, and attitude on GAD concerns; need to institutionalize gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation system; need to enhance political will of top management to implement gender-responsive planning and decision-making; need to strengthen resource mobilization at the local and international levels relative to GAD concerns; need to strengthen linkaging and networking relative to GAD mainstreaming; and need to fully operationalize Women’s Desks. (handout05)

Going beyond the already institutionalized GAD in DAR, Ms. Gabalfin also said that the way forwardto even further deepen the GAD mainstreaming in this government agency is tostrengthen mass-based support through co-ops, agrarian reform areas (ARAs), and LGUs; build the capacities of Gender Mainstreaming Teams and Gender Champions in the ARAs; translate gender issues into concrete and specific program interventions; advocate for the strengthening of the GAD Focal Point in DAR; implementation of gender-equitable and sustainable agrarian areas; partner with the PCW on the participatory gender audit for DAR’s programs and projects;and strengthen Women’s Desks to include concerns on enterprise development.

Ms. Atienza related to the delegates the efforts of the Province of Batangas, led by Governor Vilma Santos, to implement programs and activitiesthrough the PCLEDO for GAD and for cooperatives; and, furthermore, to mainstream GAD in co-ops. These programs and activities are fully supported by all stakeholders, including for budgeting, in all levels—by the provincial government, the different implementing partners, the communities, and the households. This support is important to achieving the different objectives. (handout06)

Batangas is the three-time winner of the CDA “Gawad Parangal Award” as “National Winner for LGU for Cooperative Development.” Ms. Atienza said that GAD mainstreaming in co-ops is done in PCLEDO’s experience by various interventions: advocacy and education onGE’s significance; training and seminars on GAD; compliance with CDA’s Memorandum Circular 2013-22 (“Guidelines on Mainstreaming GAD in Co-ops”); access to livelihood opportunities of women cooperatives and individuals; enhancement of social and economic services for women and men; community service spearheaded by women and men in co-ops; and capacity-building on GAD responses.

In his address to the delegates, Hon.  Orlando R. Ravanera, Chairperson of the CDA, emphasized that the co-op movement is three-pronged and interlinked by three concerns, that is, the need to address gender and development in co-ops; the need to address co-op development; and the need to address poverty. These concerns all need immediate attention and action.

Mr. Ravanera oriented the delegates on the CDA vision, which is: “An efficient and effective regulatory agency working towards the development of viable, sustainable, socially responsive and globally competitive cooperatives.”

He said that based on 2015 CDA data, the number and assets of micro, small, medium and large size co-ops reflect the Philippine social pyramid in which the majority are poor, the minority are rich. For co-ops to become agents of equity, social justice, and economic growth, the urgent task for CDA is to empower poor co-ops. In relation, he mentioned the zones of transformation in which breakdown leads to extinction; breakthrough to inclusive growth; and transformation to acceleration with a sustainable future, democratization of wealth and power, and peace, stability, and sustainability.

Mr. Ravanera cited that the foundation ofthe “CDA Roadmap”to co-op development is the PhilippinePresident’s contract with the Filipino people that is embodied in empowering the poor and the vulnerable to reduce poverty; rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth; just and lasting peace and the rule of law; transparent, accountable, and participatory governance; integrity of the environment and climate change; and adaptation and migration. (handout02)

In the open forum that followed the presentations, the delegates expressed their appreciation for the inputs of the resource speakers. But as cooperators are always yearning for information, as manifested by “Co-op Principle 5: Education, Training and Information,” the delegates said that they wanted to know even more. What should they do to really mainstream GAD in their co-ops and, thereby, achieve GE among the women and men members in their co-ops?

Also raised by the delegates in the open forum were the logistical problems encountered during the registration/signing-in of participants in the venue the day before. But the delegates also said that the Summit’s Day One proceedings, and the inputs, lessons, and experiences imparted by resource speakers made the Summit worth the trip of the cooperators who came all over the country.

The moderators for Day One were co-op leaders and GAD advocates Mr. Alexander Raquepo from the Luzon region and Mr.Siegfred Buagas from the Visayas region.

Day Two—primary co-ops and co-op federations share their gender journey

To open the Summit’s second day, GAD advocates Ms Flora May Catadman and Mr. Louie Lumacang led the prayer and community singing. Ms Corazon Echano led the delegates’ recital of the “Paninindigan” or “Gender Equality Pledge.” The Pledge was composed by Ms Echano from the Co-operative Union of Taguig and Pateros (COUNTPA).

The first moderator for the morning Dr.Emma A. Nieva, a co-op leader and GAD advocate from Mindanao, remarked that, all in all, delegates heard during the Summit’s first day the experiences in GAD mainstreaming of large organizations, agencies, and projects that assist co-ops and also, specifically, women. She said that the Summit delegates are fortunate that on the second day, they will hear from likewise excellent resource speakers who will share their gender journey as primary co-ops and co-op federations themselves. These co-ops have mainstreamed GAD in their own organizations and are enjoying the social and economic benefits of doing so, she added.

The topic “Gender Journey of Co-ops” were passionately presented by the following co-op leaders/officers and GAD advocates: Mr.  Anthony S. Sese, Branch Operations Manager and Gender Focal Person (GFP) of the Ligas Kooperatiba ng Bayan sa Pagpapaunlad (LKBP),  Bulacan; Ms Marina C. Mendoza, Member, Board of Directors;and Chairperson, Gender and Development Committee, DCCCO MPC,Dumaguete City; Mr. Melchor S. Alquizola, Operations  Manager, Maranding Women Investors MPC (MWIMPC), Lanao del Norte; Ms Ruth I. Jacutin, Member, Board of Directors; and  Gender Equality Committee Chairperson,  MASS-SPECC Cooperative Development Center (MASS-SPECC), Mindanao region; and Mr. Audie Joseph V. Samson, Executive Consultant, Visayas National Cooperative Federation and Development Center (VICTO National), Visayas region.

With his Powerpoint and video presentations, Mr. Sese of LKBP emphasized that this “award-winning Co-op promotes GE.”  LKBP started in 1986, when mostly small entrepreneurs and farmers founded the Co-op right after the EDSA Revolution. LKBP continuously expanded its services and programs through the years, and it became involved in GAD matters particularly as one of the participants in GAD projects in co-ops implemented in the Philippines by AWCF starting in 2010, supported by We Effect (formerly the Swedish Cooperative Center). Having gained awareness of GAD’s importance to co-ops’ continued sustainable growth and development, LKBP pursued its being a gender-fair co-op even after the AWCF projects had ended. In fact, LKBP had become a gender equality resource center deeply involved in activities within its organization and even beyond. LKBP has integrated and mainstreamed GAD in all its services and programs, benefitting the members and communities in various localities in Bulacan. It is inspired by its GE Vision of “A leading GE Champion in the Philippines,” and itsGE Mission of “To advocate GE in all levels of our Co-op operations and the community.” As Mr. Sese is the GFP of LKBP, he very actively shares his and LKBP’s GAD commitment, experience, and expertise within LKBP itself and also with outside organizations and groups. Mr. Sese shared to the Summit delegates the “passionate statements” of LKBP about GAD in co-ops, among which are: “Gender is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do”; “…co-ops…need smart and efficient leaders who change things by confidently promoting gender equality with a heart”; and “Women aren’t here to serve men. Women and men are here to help each other become the best humans that they can be.”  (handout08)

Ms. Mendoza of DCCCO MPC reported that their Co-op was a participant in the first GAD in co-ops Summit in Subic in 2014. That year also, the Co-op’s Board of Directors issued two Resolutions for GAD: One, for the Co-op’s commitment to mainstream GE in their organization. The Board assigned a GFP for officers and a GFP for staff in the Co-op.Two, creation of the Co-op’s GAD Committee, with five officers and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). (handout09)

The GAD Committee of DCCCO MPC now has seven officers and also became one of the Standing Committees of the Co-op. After the issuance of the Board Resolutions, the Co-op actively took part in capacity-building activities on GAD, such as gender-awareness and training of trainers (TOT) sessions conducted by GERC-Philippines in various places of the country and  in the DCCCO offices. By far, the Co-op had already conducted gender-sensitivity seminars for its officers, staff, and members; TOT sessions for officers and staff; learning exposure trips to different co-ops with strong GE programs; coordination with the Co-op’s Education Committee to look at ways to even better integrate gender in the education and training activities in DCCCO. The Co-op also drew up its GAD plan for 2016.

Mr. Alquizola of MWIMPC was the next presenter.  Seventeen women victimized by loan sharks finally took control of their dire situation by founding MWIMPC in 1996.  They have not looked back since then and have helped countless others rise above poverty.  MWIMPC has four branches as savings and credit centers. The Co-op’s other services and programs are a co-op training center for women in Lanao del Norte; Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Women Beekeeping Livelihood Project; Lanao del Norte Women and Children Development Center; and Integrated Primary and Maternity Health Care Services. In his presentation, Mr. Alquizola shared his Co-op’s gender challenges; gender strategies and approaches; and lessons learned in their GAD journey.Among the lessons learned are: advocate within the structure of the organization; practice what you preach; turn theory into practice; commitment should be turned into policies, and policies should be measured by tangible deliverables; and principles and ideals should be converted into cooperative way of life; and other lessons. (handout10)

For the co-op federation experience, Ms Jacutin retraced to the delegates the almost 50-year history of MASS-SPECC, and its GAD journey that involves its member-co-ops across Mindanao. MASS-SPECC is the country’s biggest regional co-op Federation (294 primary co-op members, mostly from Mindanao); has the accounting system that is most widely used by co-ops in the country; and the first co-op Federation that offered automated teller machine services. In 1990, two seats for women representatives were allocated in the MASS-SPECC Board, as amended by the Federation’s Bylaws, ending the long-held dominance of men in the Board. The Federation’s GE Committee is institutionalized in its organizational structure. Ms Jacutin enumerated the Federation’s many GAD initiatives, and the GAD resolutions adopted during various MASS-SPECC general assemblies. The latest resolutions, issued in 2014, concern 1) the change in the MASS-SPECC Election Guidelines wherein the GAD program implementation of the primary co-ops that the  candidates are representing will be included in the qualification requirements for officership, under Memorandum Circular 2013-22 of the CDA; and 2) the GE Committee of MASS-SPECC must be represented by both male and female effective 2014, based on the guidelines (members appointed by the Regional Steering Committee [RSC]). In early 2000s, MASS-SPECC partnered with AWCF and other co-op gender advocates to strengthen its GAD efforts. It is now a regional (Mindanao) GERC. It looks forward to accrediting its pool of regional gender trainers; developing its gender mainstreaming manual and other tools; and continuing its regional gender mainstreaming in co-ops and in the Federation-level.  (handout11)

Men talking to men about manhood (M3) was the topic of Mr. Samson, who explained this advocacy to the Summit delegates. He first talked on the milestones of the herstory of VICTO National’s GAD involvement since the late 1980s, including the promotion of “Men and Development (MAD)” during the general assembly in year 2000. He said that the advocacy on M3, for which a training module is available, delineates challenges and discoveries: Challenges—1) Almost all GSTs done had a group of women explaining women/men to men; 2) Almost all gender issues are explained from a woman’s perspective, even if it is said that both women and men are victims.  (handout12)

Discoveries—1) The widespread acceptance of traditional gender roles has meant that women  havebeen devalued forwhat they do, and men have been devalued forwho they are; 2) Many men are angryand hurt by theway that society has treated them as menandboys.

The core training program of M3 involves the men participants in revisiting gender (sex and gender—the learning so far; male oppression, etc.); and what co-ops can do.

Declaration and Call for Action caps Summit (handout13)

In Day One of the Summit, the organizers distributed a survey-questionnaire to the delegates (per organization) to serve as basis for drafting the Summit’s “Declaration and Call for Action.” The Declaration was to be the culmination of the delegates’ concerns to further concretize co-ops’ efforts in GAD and thereby achieve the social and economic benefits as gender-fair organizations. The survey-questionnaire asked these questions:

  1. Did your co-op attend the “1st National GAD in Co-ops Summit” in Subic in 2014? If YES, what activities on GAD, if any, has your co-op done since that time, if previously you had not been doing these activities?
  2. If your co-op is implementing GAD activities and/or currently mainstreaming GAD, what positive factors and negative factors either reinforce or hinder the attainment of your GAD objectives?
  3. GAD is a means or tool to achieve your co-op’s goal of responding to your members’ needs. Please give not more than two ways by which co-ops and other stakeholders can address gender issues and concerns. Please write your replies under these entry points of gender mainstreaming that are stipulated in CDA Memorandum Circular 2013-22: Policy; Co-op Development Plan; Programs/Activities/Projects; Budget; and Mechanisms and Instruments.
  4. Do you have other recommendations to co-ops and other stakeholders related to GAD?

Atty. Roney Jone P. Gandeza, a co-op officer from Luzon, moderated the presentation and open forum to gather feedback from the delegates toward improving the Declaration and Call for Action Statement.

The delegates were later enjoined to sign a large tarpaulin posted near the stage, bearing the Summit’s title and the logos of the organizers,to manifest their agreement to the Statement.

On behalf of the organizers, Dr. Eulogio T. Castillo, Member, Board of Administrators, CDA, delivered the closing message and word of thanks.

–Gender Equality Resource Center