MANILA — As the Pope calls for greater women’s participation in the Philippines, last December the country was also lauded for its gender-inclusive peace process by former United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during a speech at Georgetown University.
Deles and Coronel-Ferrer were both cited by Clinton for making inclusivity the guiding principle in peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, resulting to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the final political settlement ending one of the longest internal conflicts in Southeast Asia. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, the agreement’s legal iteration, is currently under deliberation in both chambers of Congress.
“Consider what has happened recently in the Philippines,” Clinton said. “Hope for peace was all but gone when two strong women, Teresita Quintos Deles and Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, took over the negotiations. They made inclusivity their mantra. And thanks greatly to their efforts, finally a peace was brokered in a historic deal.”
Coronel-Ferrer has already received acclaim as the first woman to sign a major peace agreement in the world under a peace process office whose chief, Deles, is also a woman. They were also joined by a negotiating team that included two more women National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao and National Security Council Undersecretary and Technical Working Group on Normalization chair Zenonida Brosas.
Deles and Coronel-Ferrer have also received awards from N-Peace Network, an organization under the United Nations, which recognizes notable peace workers from around the globe.
Clinton shared the story of the Philippine peace process with women peace leaders from various countries who were gathered at Georgetown’s Institute of Women, Peace, and Security, and emphasized the important role of women in peace-building around the globe, noting that with women involved in the peace process, “entire societies enjoy better outcomes,” and “often-overlooked issues—[such as] human rights, individual justice, national reconciliation, economic renewal—are often brought to the forefront.”
Clinton also said that “women leaders, it has been found, are good at building coalitions across ethnic and sectarian lines and speaking up for other marginalized groups… It’s important to underscore this overriding fact: Women are not just victims of conflict. They are agents of peace and agents of change.”