by Gelyzza Marie R. Diaz and Neren Bartolay
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) Los Baños conducted a seminar entitled “OMG Oh-My-Gender and Development for Women” last March 21 as a component of its extensive Pinoy Rice Seminar Series 2018 that is held every quarter of the year. The event is also part of the nationwide celebration of government offices for the National Women’s Month.
(The National Women’s Month’s theme “We Make Change Work for Women” took centrefold last year and will be used until 2022. According to the Department of Interior and Local Government, it will feature the significant roles of women as contributors in development.)
The event started with welcome remarks from PhilRice Los Baños Acting Branch Director Ms. Rhemilyn Z. Relado. The seminar included talks from experts followed by a mini open forum which allowed the audience to ask questions to the speakers.
Anthropologist and Gender and Development Expert Dr. Maria Helen Dayo presented statistics on women’s literacy, access to potable water and involvement in agriculture, education, reproductive health, and child marriage and policy-making. She also encouraged everyone to be critical of the laws and policies proposed. “Maging kritikal po tayo sa mga batas na nababasa natin. Let us always ask ‘Is it pro-women?” Dayo stated. (Let us be critical of the laws we encounter . Let us always ask ‘Is it pro women?”)
Dr. Diadem B. Gonzales-Esmero discussed “Women in Rice Farming through Time”. In her presentation, she showed how women’s role in farming has changed from pre-colonial times up to the present. Dr. Gonzales-Esmero also emphasized that women of today face more challenges as they work in agriculture while not being stripped off of their duties as heads of the household.
Dr. Bella C. Cruzana, director of the UPLB Gender Center, discussed women entrepreneurs for food security. According to her, the Philippines ranks very low when it comes to supporting entrepreneurial factors for women. Dr. Cruzana also said that there are a lot of ways to help women overcome challenges in being entrepreneurs. “Empower them [women] in financial literacy, endorse their products. We need to empower them because we want to revitalize their role in the community through social enterprise.” she added.
In attendance were PhilRice Executive Director and newly appointed Gender Focal Point, Dr. Sailila Abdula, students from Colegio de Los Baños (CDLB) and University of the Philippines (UPLB), and staff from various offices in the municipality.
The Philippine Rice Research Seminar Series (PRSS) is a quarterly seminar which started in 2013. In 2016, it was opened to the public as part of PhilRice’s duty to aid in knowledge sharing among its partners. Ms. Jacqueline Lee Canilao, PhilRice Senior Science Research Specialist said that the seminar’s underlying agenda is to publicize the institute. “Palagi kasing akala ng iba, kasama kami ng IRRI. We want to be distinct and we want the public to know that PhilRice is here and open for them.”
(It is usually participated by people from the science community of Los Baños. (Most of the time, people think that we are the same as IRRI. We want to be distinct and we want the public to know that PhilRice is here and open for them.”)
The seminar series is conducted throughout the year and bears different themes per quarter. The next installment of the seminar will be held in June and will feature the latest hybrid technologies in agriculture.