Gender - General - Mothers for Peace
Mindanao women share pain and trauma of women displaced by Typhoon ‘Ondoy’
We, members of the Mindanao Commission on Women and the Mothers for Peace Movement in Mindanao, share the nation’s grief over the tragedy brought about by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” that wrought such havoc on the lives of thousands of our people. We feel the pain of mothers who have lost husbands, children and other family members in the devastation.
It is this kind of pain and trauma that many generations of Mindanao women have borne as a result of both natural disasters and armed conflict. Like their sisters in affected parts of Luzon, thousands of Mindanao women are still camped in evacuation centers in Central Mindanao more than a year after they fled their communities to escape fighting between the military and renegade commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Many of these women “bakwits” have no homes to return to. Their most basic needs are still unmet and their plight continues to be ignored and neglected. A number have lost their babies due to poor conditions in the evacuation centers. Rather than watch them die of starvation, some have even started to give their babies away hoping that they would have better chances of survival.
The task of rebuilding lives, homes and communities devastated by disaster as always falls on the shoulders of women. It can take years before lives can return to normalcy. Often it is also the women who have to keep up hope and foster healing among family members scarred by trauma.
But recovery and healing can occur as shown by the many narratives of survival and triumph over adversity shared by many women in Mindanao who refused to be broken by war and other forms of destructive conflict.
As this recent tragedy has shown, women suffer most from the impact of climate change and natural disasters because of discrimination and poverty. The same happened to women victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as documented in a report on “Gender and Climate Change.”
So it is that we commit to continue our important work in reducing the vulnerability of women in situations of disaster and armed conflict. We strongly demand that the government address women’s vulnerability in programs to prevent and mitigate these situations. We also commit to undertake continuous advocacy for women’s leadership and involvement in all levels of decision-making on disaster preparedness, climate change mitigation, and recovery and healing.