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Soccsksargen strives for gender-responsive zones with GAD Seal Certification

This is the Prime Regional Government Center XII, which houses various national government agencies. It was designated a Gender and Development Zone in February 2021 by the Regional Gender and Development Committee XII, chaired by DILG XII, and whose declaration was subsequently supported by the Regional Development Council XII in March 2021. (Photo: PIA Region 12)

KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato (PIA) -- The Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC) XII, chaired by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) XII, has pioneered an initiative establishing the gender and development (GAD) zone in the Soccsksargen region (Region XII).

The RGADC’s initiative prompted the DILG Central Office to recognize and adopt it as best practice, establishing the “Gender and Development Seal Certification Program for DILG” through a Memorandum Circular 2023-073 issued on May 12, 2023.

DILG XII Regional Director Josephine Cabrido-Leysa pointed out the importance of promoting gender and development to foster a more meaningful future during the recent Regional GAD Summit in Kidapawan City. Leysa also challenged GAD advocates to get even more involved in the government's efforts towards making Soccsksargen a GAD-responsive region. (Photo courtesy of IDCD-PGO Cotabato)

Tracing back, Josephine Cabrido-Leysa, regional director of DILG XII, said they had piloted in 2021 the Prime Regional Government Center, a compound comprised of various offices of regional line agencies in Koronadal City, to be a GAD zone as part of RGADC’s innovation in Soccsksargen. 

“One of the innovations of the RGADC XII is the declaration of the Prime Regional Government Center XII as GAD Zone through Resolution No. 02, series of 2021, entitled ‘Resolution Adopting the Prime Regional Government Center XII as Gender and Development Zone,’ which was subsequently adopted by the Regional and Development Council (RDC) XII through Resolution No. 25, series of 2021, entitled ‘Resolution Adopting the Prime Regional Government Center XII as Gender and Development Zone,’ Director Cabrido-Leysa, RGADC XII chairperson, recounted.

She explained that “this means all regional line agencies located in the Prime Regional Government Center all bear a GAD Seal Certification.”

The certification program implemented by DILG offices nationwide sets important parameters derived from the Magna Carta of Women and all other related laws to ensure that all individuals, regardless of gender, are provided with equal opportunities and rights to enjoy and avail themselves of government programs.

The official is confident that the certification program “will ensure that our efforts in gender mainstreaming are grounded in reality, enriched by diverse experiences, and strengthened by collective wisdom.”

During the Regional GAD Summit in Kidapawan City on October 18, Cabrido-Leysa emphasized the importance of promoting gender and development, which is tantamount to fostering inclusivity, equality, and empowerment.

She also accounted for how the DILG’s GAD Seal Certification came about as “an incentive and recognition program” for the promotion of GAD among regional line agencies and to be cascaded to local government units by 2024 to guarantee the active involvement and cooperation of all in the program implementation process.  

Taking pride, she noted that the summit was the first in Soccsksargen and in the Philippines, encouraging women and even men to be GAD champions.

Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza shared valuable inputs with participants of the Women in Cooperative Forum initiated by the Provincial Cooperative Development Office in celebration of Cooperative Month this October. The forum became a venue for participants to discuss strategies to intensify women's participation in the operations of cooperatives. (Photo courtesy of IDCD-PGO Cotabato)

Meanwhile, the Cotabato provincial government is working towards attaining the GAD Seal Certification not only by conducting activities that promote gender and development but also by looking into key areas it could have potentially missed.

Speaking before the crowd during the GAD Summit, Governor Emmylou Mendoza also pointed out how important it is for the provincial government to be the GAD champion.

"We are gathered here not just as mere participants but as agents of transformative change in our society—a society that acknowledges the invaluable contribution of every individual regardless of gender,” she said.

Recently, GAD advocates from the different sectors in the province met to discuss the proposed revision of the province’s GAD code.

Governor Mendoza believes that its revision will pave the way for the formulation of new, gender-responsive provisions to better serve the Cotabateños.

“It is important that the GAD code of the province complement the needs of the public, especially the marginalized sector, given the situations that we have in this fast-changing time,” the governor noted.

To further assess its implementation of GAD programs, the provincial government recently conducted an evaluation using the ‘Gender-Responsive LGU Assessment Tool’ with the participation of the department heads and gender and development focal point system-technical working group.

For the celebration of Cooperative Month this October, the provincial government, through its Provincial Cooperative and Development Office, also oversaw an activity for women tagged “Women in Cooperative Forum."

Mendoza described the activity, which was anchored on the theme “The Women in Cooperative Amidst Challenges for Transformed Life and Community,” as a good venue to highlight the exemplary role of women in the successful operations of cooperatives in their respective communities.

“Just like in our homes, women are like mothers to cooperatives, where they nurture the organization to progress,” she said as she hailed the complex responsibilities of women. (SJDM – PIA Cotabato Province)

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Harlem Jude Ferolino

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Region 12

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