NATIONAL women leaders in the country advocated for women participation in the coming elections during their visit in Davao City over the weekend.

Senator Pia Cayetano, Gabriela Women's Party-list representative Liza Maza, and former senator Doctor Santanina Rasul advocated for a stronger participation of women in all localities as the national and local elections near.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

Women leaders "should push for a more active role of women in politics, governance, and economy," said Cayetano, president of Women Parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliament Reunion.

"In my travel, I learned that in localities there are only one or two women in a line-up or there are few women candidates. Why, are women token candidates? Iisa lang ba ang kayang pag-usapan ng mga babae? No. Women can have different perspectives in different causes in the society," Cayetano said.

She added that as events related to the elections begin to unfold, women should show more participation. “Show involvement, be watchdogs of your community."

Masa particularly advocated for women participation during a luncheon with women leaders, mostly lawyers and doctors, in the city.

"Kalahati ng populasyon natin ay mga babae, kalahati rin ng mga magsasaka ay mga babae, mabigat ang ating partisipasyon sa bayan. Hindi dapat tayo matakot na magsalita," Maza said in an interview at Yahong Restaurant.

Rasul, among the organizers of a Muslim women leaders' gathering ongoing in the city, said women's role in society have evolved over the years and turned into a stronger one.

"We've started back in 2001 to encourage women participation particularly of Muslim women by conducting conferences and workshops. Over the years, we have made interfaith dialogues still focusing on women involvement," Rasul said at Waterfront Insular Hotel Monday.

"Now, we're glad to show this much huge participation in a gathering. Women remain to play a strong role in the society and should strengthen as we face the elections," said the Magbassa Kita Foundation Inc. (MKFI) chair.

Cayetano and Maza were speakers of the Regional Conference on Women as Peace Advocates, organized by MKFI and Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID). The conference gathered Muslim women leaders from different regions in the country and heard experiences from renowned Muslim women leaders from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. (JCZ)