“Juana Laban sa Pandemya: Kaya!” was the theme for the 2021 National Women’s Month led by the Philippine Commission on Women. The National Research Council of the Philippines celebrated the occasion by putting the spotlight on Filipino women scientists and researchers and their contributions in the pursuit of scientific knowledge toward national development. Videos featuring female RD Leads under the Science for Change Program as well as female NRCP Achievement awardees highlighted the achievement of the women in research and their significant contribution to innovation and nation building. Two webinars were likewise conducted in order to encourage deeper gender mainstreaming in research projects and in S&T activities.

 Integrating GAD for a more inclusive research

The first webinar was designed for research project proponents and for the Council’s Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point Systems. It tackled special topics such as gender mainstreaming for more inclusive research especially in the natural sciences. The Council held this virtual webinar on Basic Gender Sensitivity on March 25, 2021.

 “You have to see a continuing effort to continuously integrate gender, and at the same time sustain the initiatives …” said the Gender Sensitivity webinar resource speaker, Ms. Princess Alma Ani.

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Ms. Ani is a Supervising Science Research Specialist and Assistant Director of the Socio-Economic Research Division of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD). Concurrently, she is the Philippine Coordinator for the Agricultural Policy Platform under the Food and Fertilizer Technology Center for the Asian and the Pacific Region, and an advocate for gender equality.

Ms. Ani’s presentation focused on the basic gender concepts, and how GAD is being mainstreamed in the programs and projects in her agency.

In the earlier part of the presentation, Ms. Ani discussed the basic GAD concepts, the sociological concepts and development approach, and defined and differentiated sex with gender. She also discussed gender identity, gender expression, and gender orientation.

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In her talk about gender concepts, she highlighted the relationship between men and women in terms of gender roles, how these roles can lead to gender-based constraints due to gender stereotypes, and the need to address these gender constraints.

In the latter part of the presentation, Ms. Ani shared that one gender goal is to integrate gender dimensions in R&D and S&T projects in order to enhance the relevance and impact of science and technology, beyond gender equity and women empowerment.

The Gender Mainstreaming Evaluation Framework (GMEF) and the Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines (HGDG) are the tools being used in monitoring the proper integration of gender and development in the programs and projects being implemented and funded by the Council. As an example, PCAARRD established the GAD and Special Project Unit (GAD-SPU), the focal unit that ensures continuous efforts in gender-responsive governance through the promotion of gender-responsive management and transformative leadership by the conducting various gender-related programs, activities, and training.

It also developed a strategic framework to enhance GAD integration towards a more inclusive R&D in Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources sectors. This program is focused on assessing GAD integration in the Council.

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A strategic framework developed by PCAARRD to enhance GAD integration.

These tools and frameworks are being used in all the projects and activities of the Council to assure the proper integration of gender and development. Ms. Ani encourages other agencies to do the same, as well as to strengthen gender-responsive management.

The webinar benefited 156 participants consisting of 57 males and 99 females.

“For a genuine change, they must be included”

The second webinar was on the Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) held virtually on March 29, 2021. It focused on the need to add disability and social inclusion, aside from gender equality, as important components in the development initiatives of government agencies towards the attainment of SDG 5.

“If we are going to design policies… ‘they’ must be included, especially that we want a genuine change in the society”, said Philippine Chargé d’ Affaires, a.i. to Syria Vida Soraya Verzosa, resource speaker of the GEDSI webinar. “They” pertains to the marginalized sector in the society that has been excluded from social services or faced discrimination. In her presentation, she emphasized that varied approaches may be applied to address the diverse and special needs of different sectors in the society.

 “Gender equality, disability, and social inclusion is a topic not much talked about but must necessarily be part of our discourse with the intent of uplifting the plight of the vulnerable sector… and embracing them as one equal with us in nation-building…” said Dr. Marieta Bañez-Sumagaysay, the Executive Director of the National Research Council of the Philippines, a gender advocate and a certified member of the PCW National Gender Resource Pool.

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With the idea that “you cannot manage what you don’t measure”, CDA Verzosa encouraged NRCP to strategize in considering and addressing the different needs, perspectives, and experiences of women, men, people with a disability, ethnic minorities, and other socially excluded people in all aspects of program and policy assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation through the use of the GEDSI Scorecard. This tool is designed as a self-assessment tool to guide in identifying gaps and addressing barriers to GEDSI. The GEDSI Scorecard results can inform on areas where action and investments are needed to progress inclusion within the organization or agency.

CDA Verzosa discussed the manifestation of GEDSI and the factors that lead to the denial or unequal access to resources, participation, and opportunity. The unconscious bias, a person's desire to organize social worlds by separating and labeling, and the gender bias are the primary factors identified.

This webinar is another activity of the NRCP during the Women’s Month celebration to broaden the campaign for gender equality. It was participated by the 151 participants where 111 are females and 40 males.

(Exen Bantiyan Claro- DOST-NRCP)