Mindanao women leaders to visit Davao

MINDANAO women leaders will converge in Davao City next week to decide on actions that will ensure their interests and leadership are taken into serious consideration in the challenges currently facing the south.

"We want to lend our voices and energies to bring about positive outcomes for the political, economic and social issues that confront our region and our nation," said Irene M. Santiago, MCW chair and chief executive officer.

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Santiago said Mindanao faces many challenges this year, including the upcoming 2010 elections, the Ampatuan massacre, and the resumption of peace talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Ampatuan massacre has led to the clamor for reforms in governance, particularly but not only in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm).

Moreover, the peace talks have resumed formally with both parties now aiming for a peace agreement by April this year.

In the midst of these critical challenges, Santiago said Mindanao also continues to face issues around peace and security, poverty and hunger, corruption, and climate change.

"These challenges make our annual gathering a significant occasion not only for women but also for Mindanao and the rest of the country," she added.

Kamindanawan 2010 is the annual Mindanao Women's Congress organized by the Mindanao Commission on Women with the support of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). It will be held starting Thursday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel.

On February 4, the keynote speaker is Maguindanao OIC Governor Nariman Ambolodto, who will discuss ways by which Mindanao women can help in reforms in her province and Armm. This will be followed by a forum with the senatorial candidates.

Panel sessions on various issues where the women's agenda and participation will be discussed include the following: "Climate Change" by Fr. Daniel McNamarra, S.J, a climatologist and head of the Physics Department of the Ateneo de Davao University; "Election 2010" by Nelia B. Agbon, country director of the National Democratic Institute for Mindanao Affairs; "Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development Mindanao 2020" by Janet Lopoz, executive director of the Mindanao Economic Development Council; and "Reforms in Armm" by lawyer Suharto M. Ambolodto, vice-chair of Siad Initiatives in Mindanao.

On February 5, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Annabelle T. Abaya will discuss "Prospects for Peace," while University of the Philippines Professor Miriam Coronel Ferrer will talk about "The Right to Self-Determination and Options for Peace."
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