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Press Release: 25 years of empowering indigenous women in the Cordillera region

by Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC)

3 March 2012

25 years of Empowering Indigenous Women in the Cordillera Region

It was 25 years ago, on 7-8 March 1987, that an assembly of 60 women, composed mostly of indigenous peasants with urban poor women, workers, youth and some professionals including women from religious institutions from different part of the Cordillera region happened at the Sta. Catalina Convent in Baguio City. The women’s assembly agreed in a resolution the creation of a women’s service center that would support the building of a progressive women’s movement in the Cordillera region. This was the mandate for the establishment of the Cordillera Women’s Education and Resource Center (CWERC) that was renamed Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC) in 2005.

On 8 March 2012, indigenous women’s organizations, other local partners, allies-networks of CWEARC and founders of the Center, will gather at the Granary Restaurant and Conference Center at the Cathedral of the Resurrection Compound in Baguio City to celebrate the gains in 25 years of empowering indigenous women, learn the lessons and draw further inspiration, and explore opportunities on new program ideas for CWEARC to continue its mission of empowering indigenous women in the region.

“This will be a reunion of indigenous women’s organizations, local partners, staff and Board, and allies of CWEARC in the last 25 years”, announces Vernie Yocogan-Diano, the current Executive Director of CWEARC. “ This gathering will be a historic event to celebrate the Center’s landmark contribution in building the women’s movement in the Cordillera and lessons learned in 25 years of work and partnership. We will also take this event to draw new program ideas for CWEARC to continue as a relevant service center in support of the women’s movement in the Cordillera”, adds Yocogan-Diano.

“Our 25 years of existence was not easy as many might think”, Ms. Geraldine Fiagoy, an anthrolopologist and who long served as Chairperson of the Board of CWEARC said. “ We may not have survived this long if not for CWEARC’s commitment in realizing its mission of empowering indigenous women and turn the challenges into inspiration to make indigenous women’s organizations more visible and active participants in social change and community development”. She proceeds to share the key achievements of the Center, “We are proud to say that our programs have established and paved the development of Innabuyog, the alliance of indigenous women’s organizations in the Cordillera, have created women leaders, initiated a sustained women’s rights advocacy which was not there before CWERC was established, produced useful education and advocacy materials which facilitated awareness-raising on women’s rights and empowerment, and we have initiated and established networks in support of indigenous women’s struggles in the region”, Fiagoy shared.

Ms. Myra Caguioa, a former staff of CWEARC who now teaches at the University of the Philippines Baguio added, “The publications, research, education and advocacy materials of CWEARC has provided a relevant perspective on the situation and struggles of indigenous women. These resources speak about Cordillera women’s realities and actions, and are enlightening materials for students and the academics”. Such materials are tapped by the academe, research institutions, government and other groups as resource materials. The comment is also affirmed by CWEARC’s external evaluation reports in 2004 and 2011 that the Center is acknowledged by different institutions—women’s groups, academic, church, NGOs, research, media including government on gender and women’s development.

“I look forward to meeting older and newer colleagues in the 25th anniversary of CWEARC”, shares Mrs. Marilou Felizco, a human rights worker and member of Innabuyog Metro Baguio. “I maybe physically weak by age but I am made stronger by organizations like CWEARC. Mother Petra Macliing, a staunch woman leader in the indigenous peoples’ movement in the Cordillera and an international awardee of the Women’s Creativity in Rural Life in 2009 by the Women World Summit Foundation and Honouring 100 Rural Women by the Asia Rural Women’s Coalition, will be one of the Cordillera veteran women leaders who will attend the 25th anniversary of CWEARC.

The 25th anniversary event is CWEARC’s contribution to the observance of this year’s International Day of Toiling Women.

Reference: Vernie Yocogan-Diano, Executive Director

Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center, Inc. (CWEARC) #16 Loro St., Dizon Subdivision, Baguio City 2600 Philippines email address: tel. no.: +63 74 442 5347 executive director: Vernie Yocogan-Diano

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