Implemented in collaboration with the Institute for Popular Democracy and commenced last July 2006.
Now on its third year of implementation, the CPLG project has made considerable inroads in advancing ‘new’ practice and thinking in casting citizen participation in local governance as a political project. More than amplifying voices and democratising access of marginalized and disadvantaged sectors, the strategy and focus of CPLG is to implement activities that foster democratic deepening at the local level. This entails raising the political capacity of ordinary people to effectively participate in local politics and governance and developing transformative governance mechanisms that change power relations at the grassroots level.
Summary findings from the report:
Women are represented — albeit in very small numbers — in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
All laws relating to holding public office, political participation, elections and electoral reforms are also applicable to women.
Thus ideally, if there is to be a proportional number of women representatives in legislative bodies in relation to the group it is supposed to represent (i.e. women) then the ratio of male to female legislators is 1:1.
There are more women elected into executive and legislative positions at the local level.
Except in Vice-Governor slots, there is also an upward trend in the number of women who won seats at the local government level.
However, noting the percentage of women to men in local government positions, the numbers are still far from the ideal 50 per cent, and even from the proposed 30 per cent in the proposed Gender Balance Act.
While there is a gender-responsive policy enunciated by the judicial system where judges are obligated to undergo gender sensitivity trainings as part of their capacity building, it is nonetheless difficult to change deeply embedded values and attitudes about gender relations through trainings of this kind, in and outside the courts, especially of senior judicial officers, although the policy has been heralded by some sectors as progressive.
Women voters outnumber their male counterparts in the past few national elections, albeit slightly.
Since the Filipino women got the vote in 1937, they have been actively participating in elections as voters, with the percentage of women who actually voted relative to registered voters not going below 68 per cent.
The Gender Balance Bill aims to strengthen women’s participation in elective and appointive positions in the government by instituting a minimum of 30 per cent representation of women in these spheres.
This refers mainly to two concerns: The first relates to the representation of women’s issues and perspectives, while the second is about the political clout and influence of women within legislature to push for women’s issues and perspectives.
These concerns can be quantitatively measured by, among others, tracking gender-specific or related bills filed and the leadership positions assumed by women politicians within Congress.
Both scholars noted the low number of gender-specific bills filed in the House of Representatives and Senate, and even lower still, the number of gender-specific bills that were passed into law.
This perception has affected many women leaders who are regarded in the women’s movements and civil society organizations as having the potential for decisive and direct engagement in electoral politics.
Pressure politics in the form of community organizing and mobilizations around national and sectoral issues is one way that women’s formations have traditionally engaged political processes.
First is through legislative advocacy which entailed working with policy-makers to forward laws addressing women-specific issues.
The adoption of gender and development (GAD) mainstreaming as the main government strategy to promote gender equality also provided a vehicle for women’s groups to integrate their agenda within legislative bodies in local government units, and the bureaucracy.
Various ways that women’s groups have engaged local governments through gender mainstreaming are as lobbyists for can you get rid of herpes gender-specific local legislation, trainers in capability building activities, consultants for programs and projects if not direct implementers of such.
Women and budget advocacy has to date, remained in the realm of (a) advocacy on monitoring the national budget, specifically in the way that budgets for social services is being allocated; and (b) advocacy on and monitoring the government’s GAD mainstreaming effort.
On the other hand, the more militant women’s groups, community-based organizations and others had stayed away from being too close with the government, and the issue of “reform or revolution” was a debate that haunted and continues to haunt the women’s movement and as a whole other social movements.
This activism resulted, to a degree, in the representation of women in various governmental institutions and agencies.
The state’s recognition on the role of women in nation building is a big leap towards attaining a society that at the policy level acknowledges no gender responsiveness.
To do this, women’s political participation must be documented to better identify the support they need.
Likewise, addressing the broader context of gender stereotyping and gender-based discrimination within legislative bodies is also necessary if gender-responsiveness of policies and programs instituted is a goal of women engaging in electoral politics.
Education and organizing outside formal legislative venues is also a crucial aspect of strengthening women’s participation in electoral politics.
The data on voting patterns is telling in this regard: although more women go out to vote than men, women do not necessarily vote for women.
A critique of limiting the discussion on women in politics to their engagement in national electoral politics (and maybe electoral politics in general) to push for a gender agenda is that it excludes women marginalized over and above gender considerations, for instance, urban and rural poor women, indigenous women and Muslim women.
Although there are recognized leaders among their ranks, their influence is generally localized and heavily constricted by cultural and structural forces that have kept them at the margins of national development in the first place.