To mark International Women's Day 2016, for which the official theme is #PledgeForParity, we are profiling some of our female peacebuilders around the world and asking them: What can gender parity mean for peace?
Judy Gulane, Philippines
Judy Gulane is a Communications Specialist for our Philippines programme.
Please describe your professional background and what you are currently working on.
I write stories as I love stories. In my first job at a multinational firm, I wrote company news and employee profiles. I then moved to a local NGO, where I wrote development stories and edited a development-focused magazine. I have also worked as a reporter and editor of political and economic news for a Philippine business newspaper, and later I became head of research. And now at International Alert, I write, research and advocate for land issues on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where most of our Philippines work is focused.
What are the challenges/opportunities for gender equality in your country?
The Philippines is in fact known to be one of the top countries for gender equality. In the workplaces I have joined, there have been more women than men but women tend to occupy the middle management rather than top positions. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for women: to claim those top positions and to do so because we can.
What role do you think gender equality/women's empowerment could play in long-term peace in the Philippines?
I remember how my mother and grandmother settled quarrels at home or checked bad behavior by talking it out. Women keep the peace, graciously. Thus, in settling conflicts, whether in the household, between families or clans, or between government and rebels, women’s participation will certainly be fruitful. Yet women’s voices are often drowned out. Men need to learn to listen to women’s viewpoints and insights as conflicts affect everybody.
Which women inspire you and why?
My workmates in the past and at present. The female journalists and NGO workers I know are some of the most creative, intelligent, gutsy and persistent people I know. A story or a project is tenaciously pursued until victory is achieved. If it’s defeat, they pick themselves up and learn from it.
Will you be celebrating Women's Day this year? How?
It will be a day for remembering that many women in other parts of the world are not as lucky as us in the Philippines. And for saying thanks for the freedoms and opportunities that we, Filipino women, currently enjoy. I’ll certainly be thankful that I have had an education and have been able to use my gifts in work that is both challenging and rewarding.