Last March 21-22, 2023, Carey Lacambacal, a Fourth Year International Studies Student and MC CEDAW Youth President, participated in the National Consultation of the Participatory Engagement on the Assessment, Crafting, and Enhancement of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (PEACE-NAPWPS) as the NCR Youth Representative, held at The Bayleaf Intramuros, Manila.
The PEACE-NAPWPS started off with multiple rounds of regional assessment and agenda-building workshops in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao early in the year to craft the CSO agenda on the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAPWPS 2023-2033) facilitated by Oxfam, together with Women Engaged in Action on UNSCR 1325 (WEAct 1325). After the inputs of all CSOs from all regions in the Philippines were collated and analyzed, selected participants from the regional consultations were invited back for the National Consultation for their insights to be addressed and their inputs to be included in the National Action Plan that would be presented to the the National Steering Committee on WPS and to the event’s main sponsor, the Australian Embassy.
As a Youth Representative from NCR, Lacambacal made sure to add her critiques during roundtable discussions on some agenda points that lacked a youth-centric approach that would benefit young women and girls in the Philippines. And as a representative of CEDAW Youth, she helped in the revising of a few proposed agenda items that did not explicitly state a gender-based approach that is more than necessary for the development of not just women, but also of men and those that identify as nonbinary.
When all participants were divided into groups that had a mix of CSOs from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to review the entire conference’s comments and suggestions, Lacambacal acted as the group’s documenter to collate and summarize the findings and edit the main document that would be later on reported and added into the proposed NAPWPS 2023-2033 that would be presented to government officials.
Truly, the conference was more than important as not only did Lacambacal get to meet many influential people from the Philippine Commission on Women, the Bangsamoro Women Commission, the Department of National Defense, and various civil society organizations from all over the country, but it was of great significance since she was given the privilege of inputting her own thoughts and opinions into a document that would hopefully make it into the country’s laws and policies and eventually change the lives of all Filipinos.
And while we are all still far from achieving gender equality, we have also come a very long way from how unjust and unsafe it was back then. There is still more work to be done but there is great comfort in knowing that the Philippines is under the watchful eye and great care of the various civil society organizations that go above and beyond for women, the youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and other marginalized groups.
Thanks to the noble efforts of CSOs that work day in and day out for the marginalized, we are one step closer in witnessing the change we wish to see in the world. Their relentless pursuit towards a just, equal, and equitable society proves that while others build borders, women build bridges and feminists bridge connections for all.
By Carey Lacambacal, MC CEDAW Youth President and IV BA International Studies Student