Magsaysay awardee: Women key in peacebuilding

Nillicent Bautista – The Philippine Star

November 10, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Women’s participation in peace-building should be normalized, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee said.

Filipino peace negotiator Miriam-Coronel Ferrer, during her lecture as a laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, said that women can do the job well only if they are given the chance and the trust to be involved.

In her speech, Coronel-Ferrer spoke about the many female leaders she met who are a testament that women can have an active role in peace-building.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), a young woman created a literacy program for combatants who do not know how to read and write, Coronel-Ferrer said.

Another woman in BARMM, who was related to one of the most wanted commanders of Abu Sayaff, helped facilitate the talks between peace workers and members of a terrorist group, she added.

“Their choices manifest how women are owning the challenge of choosing peace through peace, deepening its practice, and shifting the paradigm,” she said.

The Ramon Magsaysay laureate noted that the growing participation of women in peace-building is considered a “major paradigm shift.”

Despite the many difficulties women encounter, such as gender-based expectations and cultural biases, Coronel-Ferrer said that women have now become more confident in occupying a space as agents of peace, change and justice.

“More and more women, locally and globally, can now say, ‘I have the power!’ with confidence,” she said.

Coronel-Ferrer is the first and only female chief negotiator in the country and was hailed as this year’s laureate of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

According to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF), Coronel-Ferrer embodied the “greatness of spirit and transformative leadership” through her undying devotion to harnessing women’s power in creating a just and peaceful world.

Her “unwavering belief in the transformative power of nonviolent strategies in peacebuilding” merited her recognition, the RMAF said.

Coronel-Ferrer, a former political science professor, initiated the drafting of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which was adopted by the national government in 2010.

In 2012, during the administration of the late president Benigno Aquino III, Coronel-Ferrer was appointed as the female chief negotiator of the government peace panel tasked to negotiate with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The peace talks with the MILF led to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014, ending the 17-year negotiation between the government and the MILF.

A champion of inclusivity in peace-building, Coronel-Ferrer also co-founded the Southeast Asian Women Peace Mediators, a pioneering women’s group engaged in convening safe spaces for dialogues and supporting mediation.

The Filipino peacemaker is one of only four recipients of the 2023 Magsaysay Awards. She is the lone female on the list.

Other Ramon Magsaysay laureates this year include Ravi Kannan R. from India, Eugenio Lemos from Timor-Leste and Krovi Rakshand from Bangladesh.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award, named after the seventh Philippine president, is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Asia and is given to individuals and groups whose contributions to human development have transformed the lives of people around them.


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