Canada, UN launch joint program for Women and Peace in BARMM

June 7, 2023

In photo (l-r): Mr. Nery Ronatay, WPS Lead, UN Women Philippines; PMAJ Katherine B. Paydoen, Chief Regional Community Affairs and Development Division, PNP Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PROBAR); Ms. Ryce Chanchai, Lead for ASEAN Governance, Peace and Security, UN Women; Engr. Mohajirin T. Ali, MNSA, Director General, Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA); Hadja Bainon G. Karon, Chairperson, Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC); Atty. Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba, Attorney General and Floor Leader, Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA); Mr. John Lok, Head of Cooperation, The Embassy of Canada in the Philippines; Mr. Winston Camarinas, Cotabato Field Office Head, UNDP Philippines; PCapt Judith C. Ambong, Chief, Women and Children Protection Center, PNP Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PROBAR)

UNDP Philippines


Cotabato City – Canada and United Nations agencies UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Joint Programme on advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in collaboration with the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA) and the Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC). 


The "Empowering Women for Sustainable Peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)" is a Joint Programme (JP) of UNDP Philippines and UN Women Asia and the Pacific, which will run until 2025. It is being implemented under the guidance of the UN Philippines Resident Coordinator's Office, with funding support from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) amounting to 3 million Canadian dollars. It targets to empower women in the Bangsamoro region to participate and lead in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and conflict resolution, and in supporting the BARMM government in promoting gender equality and meaningful inclusion of women in peace and security processes.

The launch was led by the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines' Head of Cooperation, Mr. John Lok; Engr. Mohajirin T. Ali, MNSA, Director General of the BPDA; BWC Chairperson Hadja Bainon Karon; UNDP Philippines Cotabato Field Office Head Mr. Winston Camarinas; and, UN Women Lead for ASEAN Governance, Peace and Security, Ms. Ryce Chanchai. The launch was also attended by partners from different BARMM ministries, offices, and agencies, along with partners from CSOs in the Bangsamoro, whose representatives expressed commitment to support the implementation of the Joint Programme.

BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim expressed utmost support for the Joint Programme and noted the importance of the initiative in the region. He noted that, "With the launch, I am optimistic that gender violence and discriminatory gender norms and practices will be put to an end, wherein Bangsamoro women and men are both champions of peace and security, and advocates of sustainable development and moral governance."

Over the years, Canada has been a strong international advocate of the WPS agenda. In his message, the Embassy of Canada's Head of Cooperation, Mr. John Lok highlighted Canada's recognition of the historic and notable achievements of the Bangsamoro peace process in recent years, stating further that "the WPS agenda is at the heart of Canada's Feminist Foreign Policy. This is why the launch of the Empowering Women for Sustainable Peace in the BARMM project is critical and a proud moment for us. Canada believes that more inclusive, peaceful societies are possible when women participate in conflict prevention, resolution, and peacebuilding."

The Joint Programme is anchored in the Bangsamoro Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (RAP-WPS) 2020-2022 and its lessons learned to inform the next version of the RAP-WPS. 

"This Joint Programme has supported us to come up with a very strong Regional Action Plan on Women Peace and Security, with very strong provisions on some themes that have been neglected before, including work on WPS and climate change, on young people, on people with disability, on gender-diverse population and women in the normalization. The RAP WPS 2023-2028, which we just approved, has been instrumental in ensuring that we keep addressing the vulnerabilities of women impacted by conflict," said BWC Chairperson Hadja Bainon Karon in her message.

The RAP-WPS is the sub-national plan responding to the issues and challenges affecting Bangsamoro women and girls disproportionately affected by the decades-long conflict in the region. 

UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez highlighted that the Joint Programme had provided an opportunity for stakeholders, such as UN Women, UNDP and GAC, to invest in programs and interventions that ultimately aim to contribute to increasing the meaningful participation of Bangsamoro women across all pillars of Women, Peace, and Security in the region.

"This initiative will be implemented within the context of the Regional Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security of BARMM, which is one of the first in the world and remains a global good practice for experts. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity for the Joint Programme to collaborate with BWC and other partners in the drafting process of the next cycle of this Regional Action Plan," Resident Coordinator Gonzalez said. 

The primary beneficiaries of the Joint Programme include women and girls in BARMM, particularly those who are vulnerable to violence, conflict, and crisis in the region. The immediate beneficiaries include BARMM Ministries and Agencies and gender advocates, civil society women's organizations and associations at regional and national levels. [E]