DA GAD FPS Technical Secretariat Head Marites Bernardo answers questions from the participants during the Open Forum.

Women leaders of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries’ Advisory Special Bodies (PCAF-ASBs) once again gathered to assert recognition and equality in leadership positions both in government and private sectors, as well as in social protection during the 2nd ASBs Women Leaders’ Summit on November 20, 2018 in Quezon City.

“Gender should not be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader. It always depends on the individual strengths and personality traits. Unfortunately, even in our ASBs, the difference can be seen,” PCAF Executive Director Sarah Gutierrez-Cayona revealed to almost a hundred ASB women leaders in the audience.

The Executive Director said that currently, there are 3,130 ASB officers nationwide and only 29% or 930 women occupy the key leadership position.

Considering this scenario, PCAF adopted the United Nations’ theme “Sustainable Infrastructure, Services and Social Protection for Gender Equality and Empowerment for Women and Girls” as it encourages to take on leadership roles and calls for better public services including health care, education, childcare, and shelter.

PCAF Gender and Development Focal Person Estrella Tulay stressed that the Summit challenges the ASBs women leaders to influence the decisions that will shape their lives and their livelihood by coming up with policy resolutions and policy agenda that will address the issues affecting women in the agriculture sector.

Agriculture Undersecretary and DA GAD Focal Point System Chairperson Evelyn Laviña also suggested to the participants “to write a resolution appealing to the lending institutions to be gender sensitive” pointing out that wives should also be allowed to borrow from these institutions, not only the husbands.

Aside from its adherence to Republic Act 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women, the summit was part of PCAF’s goal of broad-based membership that facilitates participation and equitable representation of women in all spheres in society, particularly in decision-making and policymaking processes in the government and private entity.

The summit also highlighted the importance of women’s roles as agents and beneficiaries of development of their chosen industry.

On the other hand, the participants were updated on the Department of Agriculture GAD fund allocations and acquired opportunities through GoNegosyo available programs for women entrepreneurs and their organizations.

Resource persons also tackled plastic waste management particularly marine plastic pollution and ocean’s biggest challenges. Aside from caring for the environment, the Summit also presented discussions on health and wellness.

Resource speakers also shared their best practices, learnings and experiences as women leaders in both government offices and in organizations, and as women farmer entrepreneur.

The Summit expected the participants to use all their gained knowledge to come up with policy resolutions that will benefit their fellow women leaders when they get back to their respective regions. | JC