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From Knowledge to Action: LGUs Tackle Gender-Based Violence in their Communities

By Ma. Kristine Buenafe

This 25th of November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, launching the 18 days of activism to be concluded on the 10th of December 2023 — the day that commemorates the International Human Rights Day.

A critical moment considering that the 2017 National Demographic Health Survey revealed that 2 in 5 women who have experienced violence have never sought assistance or disclosed their experiences to anyone. Due to this, barangays are urged to enhance their capabilities to address these cases and create a safer environment for women and children.

In support of women and children, the European Union's Governance in Justice (GOJUST) Programme provided a grant to the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal (SALIGAN), a legal resource NGO, in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government - National Barangay Operations Office (DILG-NBOO), to enhance the capacities of LGUs in addressing cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

“Our purpose and the purpose of the justice sectors, the Supreme court, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), with which we are all a part of, is really to strengthen our link and streamline our processes so that our desired goals can be fulfilled,” added by Atty. Hector Soliman, Senior Adviser for Access to Justice for the European Union’s GOJUST Programme.

SALIGAN organized a 5-day training of trainers for members of the Local Committee on Anti-Trafficking and Violence Against Women and their Children (LCAT-VAWC) from the cities of Zamboanga, Baguio and Balanga, where justice zones were established by GOJUST, with Zamboanga the most recent of the three.

”We are gathered here today because it is our mission to end all forms of violence against women, and all forms of gender-based violence, because we believe that this change should start in our communities,” Atty. Marie Hazel Lavitoria expressed this as she formally launched the week-long training spearheaded by SALIGAN.

During the program, significant laws such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Safe Spaces Act were discussed. The sessions focused on strengthening the Barangay VAW desks, integrating the Anti-Sexual Harassment (ASH) barangay mechanisms.

The training concluded a week of learning and collaboration with the development of concrete action plans by each LGU. These plans aim to address the challenges identified and to make the most of opportunities within their cities. Participants were committed to various actions, including organizing VAWC and GBV seminars and reinforcing their barangays' referral networks, all with the shared goal of fostering safer and more responsive barangays in their cities.

“We hope that after this activity, other barangays and officials can take up action and make a change for improvement because we cannot do this alone,” shared by a representative from Balanga City.

“We are committed to making our plans of action happen. What we learned here we will bring to Zamboanga to also train and teach our fellow advocates in the barangay-level, dahil ito po talaga yung kailangan namin sa LGU,” a Zamboanga City representative conveyed as the program concluded.


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