Indigenous women represent Philippines in global leadership school

Sixteen women from across the Cordillera Administrative Region and Mindanao are representing the Philippines in the Global Leadership School of Indigenous Women spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter

Filipino participants of the Global Leadership School of Indigenous Women with Yon Fernandez de Larrinoa, FAO’s Advocacy Officer on Indigenous People (©FAO/N.Meru)


Implemented in Bolivia, Peru, India and the Philippines, the programme seeks to empower indigenous women leaders and activists to advocate for human rights, food  and nutrition security.

FAO reports that while indigenous peoples constitute only about five percent of the world’s population – most are in Asia – they account for about 15 percent of the world’s poor.

The main causes of marginalization, explains Yon Fernandez de Larrinoa, FAO’s Global Advocacy Officer on Indigenous Peoples, are related to the violation of their rights. “It is crucial that we pave the way for indigenous women to have a strategic role in our quest to achieving zero hunger and other interrelated goals for sustainable development,” he said.

Capping off the observance of National Women’s Month in the country, Filipino participants of the Global Leadership School gathered in Manila for intensive face-to-face seminars with experts that will reinforce the lessons they have learned through an earlier virtual learning platform.

Addressing participants, FAO Representative in the Philippines José Luis Fernández said, “Indigenous women bear the burden of discrimination related to gender and ethnicity, among others but this should not deter you from moving forward in charting a brighter future for your communities. In the years that FAO has been working in the Philippines, we have witnessed how Filipino indigenous women are extremely capable of advocating for positive change and being development partners.”

“This is the first time that I am able to join a gathering of indigenous women from different parts of the country and even from outside our country. We can see a democratic dialogue and we are learning through sharing our experiences and listening to the experiences of others,” said Elsie Mokudef, a Teduray from Maguindanao Province.

“It’s time for us indigenous women to break our silence. It’s time for us to speak up. Then and now, we see in communities that only a few women are given the opportunity to participate in decision making and this is usually because they are insecure about speaking,” she added.

Gender equality and empowering indigenous peoples are central to FAO’s mandate of achieving food security for all. In the Philippines, FAO has been working with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Agriculture, Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local government units to build the resilience of vulnerable indigenous communities and indigenous women to natural disasters through climate adaptive agroforestry methods that take into account their centuries-old farming systems.


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