In time for the International Women's Month, a total of 96 cities, represented by 13 city mayors and 167 local government officers tuned in to the closing ceremony of the "Promoting Gender and Development (GAD) Advocacy in Philippine Cities through Establishment and Strengthening of GAD Focal Point Systems (GFPS) Project," a two-year project implemented by the League of Cities of the Philippines and supported by the Embassy of Canada Philippines through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
The GFPS Project aims to improve the capacity of Philippine cities in implementing policies that encourage better outcomes for women and girls. This was achieved by gathering evidence and best practices in cities that support the viability of the GFPS, a mechanism for local government units (LGUs) to mainstream gender in their policies and programs.
LCP Representative for Region IX and Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco formally opened the session and shared her approach in ensuring gender responsiveness in her local government.
"Through our GAD Focal Point Systems and GAD plan and budget, we are able to support their development and address their needs to effect the change we want towards women empowerment and gender equality," she said.
The mayor added: "Our initiatives to mainstream gender in our interventions should be responsive enough to the needs of our people."
Canadian Ambassador Peter MacArthur, meanwhile, commended the gender and development advocacies of Philippine cities.
"We are really supportive of Philippines' efforts to advance gender equality and women's empowerment, especially at the local level, where so much socioeconomic progress can be made. Mayors are really important in Canada and the Philippines for that reason," he said.
DILG-BLGD Assistant Division Chief Gemma Macatangay also dialed in to the event and thanked LGU officials for supporting the GFPS.
"Through this initiative, we are continuously empowering more and more women to participate in the planning process and to be active agents of development. The DILG is very thankful and honored that our LGUs are working with the members of the GAD Focal Point System who are working tirelessly and diligently," she said.
Launch of GFPS guide book
The culminating activity featured a presentation of the project's accomplishments and the launch of a guide book entitled "Towards Gender-Responsive Local Governance: Gender and Development Mainstreaming in Philippine Cities."
According to GFPS Project Coordinator Soleil Manzano, the book provides practical information on gender mainstreaming and sheds light on institutional mechanisms for localizing the Magna Carta of Women to help LGUs with planning, budgeting, and implementation of GAD programs.
The book also compiles stories from visits to the project's target cities across the Philippines to showcase best practices in organizing and strengthening the GAD Focal Point System in cities. An accompanying video that highlights key concepts of gender mainstreaming in local governments was shown during the event.
To close the online session, LCP Focal Mayor for Gender and Development and Masbate City Mayor Rowena Tuason thanked members of the GFPS Project and the Embassy of Canada for the development of the guide book.
"The LCP's initiative to launch the guide book will be an inspiration to other LGUs not to reinvent the wheel. Let the cities of the Philippines be a champion in the upliftment of the plight of women and girls in our society against all forms of discrimination," she said.
An electronic copy of the guide book may be accessed at lcp.org.ph/GFPS while the GFPS video with translated subtitles may be viewed at bit.ly/GFPSVideos.