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Philippines: union leaders united around gender equality and improving campaign capacities

The annual evaluation and planning meeting of the Philippines’s women’s network bringing together Education International’s affiliates in this country has taken stock of gender and diversity issues and reinforced the education unions’ capacities and advocacy skills.

The event was organised for top leaders and activists from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), the Federation of Free Workers-Trade Federation VIII (FFW), the Samahang Manggagawang Pilipino-National Alliance of Teachers and Office Workers (SMP-NATOW) and the Teachers' Organisation of the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS). They met in Quezon City, Philippines, from 28-30 November, with participation of staff from Education International Asia-Pacific (EIAP) office and Lärarförbundet/Sweden to support these trade union leaders and members currently confronted to many challenges, and to further strengthen the capacities, advocacy and campaigns of Education International (EI) affiliates.

Addressing gender issues

The Philippines women’s network has been working relentlessly to uphold gender equality, address gender-based violence and gender bias in textbooks. It has also been working on the protection of minority rights, especially those of Indigenous peoples and lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI) people, on the decent work agenda, on teachers’ migration, on an anti-bullying campaign and on the Magna Carta of Women, and lately on recruiting and retaining young women and involving them at decision-making levels in the union.

Capacity-building activity, and advocacy and campaigns skills improved

Participants revisited and analysed the actions and interventions of EI affiliates in 2018; gained a clear understanding of the principles of capacity building, advocacy and campaigns; strengthened their skills in running campaigns and advocacy, claiming trade union and educational rights; developed strategies for effective campaigning/advocacy work on trade union rights. They also agreed on strategies to promote sustainable development goal 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls – in their union work; and revised and gave recommendations for the 2019 Joint action plan.

“We clearly noted enhanced motivation and confidence of participants in spite of intimidation of ACT-Party List MP France Castro who was arrested at that time,” stressed EIAP’s Pathma Krishnan. She went on explaining that, while participants expressed anger and high emotions after Castro’s arrest with other members of a solidarity mission with Lumad schools in the municipality of Talaingod, in Davao del Norte, their spirit remained positive.

She also said she was impressed by the way analytical and problem-solving skills of participants, especially of new leaders, have been improved.

National Filipino education union leaders increased their participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Women’s Network (AWN) for 2019, Krishnan further underlined.