UPLB advocate speaks at international dialogue

As the pandemic continues to affect the livelihoods of communities all over the world, an advocate from UPLB spoke about how they are helping women provide for their families and become more empowered during this time of crisis.

Dr. Rina T. de Luna, a faculty member at the College of Veterinary Medicine, spoke about the program BINHI ng Pag-unlad on Feb. 11 at the international dialogue “Voices from the Grassroots” which was hosted by the Ontario Council for International Cooperation. 

“Voices from the Grassroots” sought to highlight the stories of women from South Asia as they face and soldier on amidst social problems in this pandemic.

Dr. de Luna said that BINHI has reached out to 130 families in Cabuyao, Laguna and helped provide them a constant supply of nutritious food for their families during the pandemic, as well as a means of livelihood.

Dr. de Luna said that poor women are the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns caused many of them to lose their jobs, severely affecting their income and their access to food. These problems were compounded by domestic and social problems that they were already facing even before the pandemic. 

BINHI trained the mothers in organic agriculture and taught them how to grow their own food in their backyard. BINHI was able to provide them with seeds and seedlings and other necessities by partnering with seed industries, government agencies, and private individuals.

Six months after they began the program, the women have successfully used organic farming methods to benefit their families and have become community partners. 

From this program, they learned that the new reality that is the global pandemic also requires new solutions, and that they need to involve and collaborate with new people from across sectors to create these solutions. 

Resilience, Dr. de Luna said, will be needed the most to move forward. She furthered that to build resilience, it is important to empower women and recognize their potential as partners in recovering from the pandemic.

“I am inspired to work with women and create opportunities wherein women take the lead with the right networks. We hope to provide women with experiences and resources to learn what they need to become effective leaders,” she further said.

To ensure the sustainability of these efforts, she called for more efforts to address the inequities that contribute to the vulnerabilities of women and underscored the need for solutions that are pro-poor and gender sensitive. (Jessa Jael S. Arana)

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