Passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law promises new hope for women in Southern Philippines


Date: Monday, March 4, 2019

Following decades of struggle for peace in southern Philippines, the Bangsamoro Organic Law was ratified in July 2018. The law creates a new political entity to replace the existing autonomous region, which is home to 13 ethno-linguistic groups in Mindanao. On 22 February, the transitional authority took their oath of office, swearing in the new government’s chief minister, cabinet, and parliament.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and what’s in it for women

The newly-ratified Bangsamoro Organic Law contains several provisions that will benefit women and girls. Women, youth and indigenous communities each have reserved seats in Parliament, and at least one woman must be appointed to the Cabinet. The law ensures an allocation of at least 5 per cent of the budget for programmes on gender and development. It calls for addressing the rights of women combatting climate change, and for women’s needs to be considered in rehabilitation and development programmes for internally-displaced people.

These provisions create a positive environment for women’s participation and gender-responsive governance. However, the advocacy and support from communities, NGOs, and other actors, and the buy-in and support from government officials will be vital to guarantee women’s rights and gender equality.

Women’s participation in the new government is critical to meeting women’s needs in laws and policies. These should be crafted in an inclusive process with women, youth and indigenous peoples. They must also consider the conflict, including threats of violent extremism, that has constantly challenged the region.