Posted by: Ana Monroy | December 14, 2010

“Say Dili!!” – the 16 Days of Activism in Cotabato, Philippines

Cotabato, Philippines, 25 November. We hear an inviting Kulintang melody. The traditional Mindanaon and Muslim musical instrument gathers people, who are ready for the participatory awareness raising events organized by IDP communities, UNHCR Cotabato, as well as operational partners United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil) and Community and Family Services International in Mindanao.

“Dili!” means “No” in Mindanaon, and it is the key word of the day. Participants, including IDP communities, IDP-host communities and local leaders, hang their pledges on a tree. This demonstrates their commitment to say “Dili!” to gender-based violence, and to respect women.

The traditional and cultural roles of women rest strong in these communities. During the question game, many of the participants are swept away to the question “is cleaning a duty only for women?” Another big blow question is “should men be more respected than women?” Many answers “Uway (“yes” in Maguindanaon)!” proudly. UnYPhil colleague Noraida: “a change in society cannot be made in a day. But we hope participants, especially youth, picked up an important topic to discuss in their communities and in their families: to establish women’s equal rights in their every day lives”.

The performance by IDP youth group 3KA, 3 Kabataan Para sa Kaunlaran at Kapayapaan (Youth for Peace and Development Association) brings up a controversial topic: incidents of sexual assault against women. People do not want to recognize the existence of this problem in their society. Like in many other societies, victims and their families are afraid of being stigmatized and socially isolated, if they are known as the victim or the family. The performance by 3KA indicates that this is an issue which needs to be further discussed and addressed. UnYPhil is committed to try to respond to the needs of women by empowering more communities to stand up against gender-based violence.

The event provided women with more insights: that they can speak their minds, that women and men have equal rights, and that no violence in any form should be tolerated.

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