Urban and rural women must unite | Inquirer Business

Urban and rural women must unite

For national women empowerment, rural women farmers and fisherfolk must unite with urban women business leaders.

Last Dec. 11, this action was decided upon at a meeting hosted by the Alyansa Agrikultura. The primary parties involved were the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), also known as the National Rural Women’s Coalition, and the Women’s Business Council Philippines, Inc. (WBC).

This follows the direction of Nona Ricafort, past National Council of Women chair, who quotes from Global Peace Women chair Junsook Moon’s emphasis on women unity for economic development: “Let us find ways to serve together, and in doing so, we can being healing and hope.”


PKKK is a national coalition of 426 organizations in 42 provinces. Its mission is “to work for the empowerment of rural women and the creation of an enabling environment for the fulfillment and protection of rural women’s rights.”


A Centro Saka study revealed: “Inspite of their primary role in the food security of the family, only a third of the women respondents have access to production services; less than one-fourth have access to seeds, calamity assistance, training and extension services; and less than a fourth have access to production capital.”

WBC is composed of the country’s top women business leaders and entrepreneurs. Its mission is “to serve as the voice of women in business and to shape policies for economic empowerment.” A key WBC objective is “to influence economic policies and advocate programs to address business concerns in such areas on technology development, training, access to markets and access to finance.”

Today, WBC is the lead women private sector partner of the government, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Commission on Women.

Unity imperative

Food security requires a value chain approach that connects production to marketing. Economic development necessitates more cooperation between the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Women economic empowerment requires rural women farmer and fisherfolk united with urban women business leaders. The former is identified with production and the DA, while the latter is identified with marketing and the DTI. This seeming divide must stop.

The Dec. 11 meeting was led by national coordinator Amparo Miciano of PKKK and president Rosemarie Rafael of WBC. Miciano talked about how PKKK had been working successfully on women’s rights. However, PKKK needs help from business leaders on income generation. Rafael discussed women business achievements, with a study showing that they were ranked among the top in the whole world. But the study concentrated on the urban areas.


WBC’s Alpha Allenigui and PKKK Samar Chapter’s Luchie Corrales exchanged views on how WBC could help market PKKK products. Rafael added this could be throughout the value chain in areas such as production, processing, packaging, financing and distribution. On the other hand, PKKK could supply the source materials for WBC members.

Action plan

WBC member and former P&A Grant Thornton chair Marivic Espano suggested that a supplemental study be made by a business organization to analyze the difference between the good status of urban business women and the sad status of farmer and fisherfolk women. This could point to initiatives that will minimize this disparity.

In addition, both organizations agreed to share their websites, list their strengths and weaknesses, identify areas of cooperation, prioritize possible projects and identify one flagship for immediate implementation. This would showcase united women economic empowerment for planned replication.

In 2003, Centro Saka’s Romeo Royandoyan and PKKK’s Trining Domingo were among the cofounders of the Alyansa Agrikultura. This concentrated on small farmer and fisherfolk rights and incomes. Twenty years later, the Alyansa now wishes to promote a major initiative in rural women’s economic empowerment. The forthcoming Jan. 18 action plan meeting between PKKK and WBC leaders will be a significant step in this direction.

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The author is Agriwatch chair, former secretary of presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry. Contact is [email protected].

TAGS: Commentary, Women

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