Written by: Alyssa Villa
Recognizing the role of gender in volunteerism and the contribution that volunteerism can make towards gender equality, PNVSCA conducted the “Gender and Volunteering: The Role of Gender and Volunteerism for Community Resilience” webinar on March 22, 2022 via Zoom in celebration of the National Women’s Month.
With the country still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, studies and data show that the health crisis stalled movements towards gender equality, worsening inequalities, further exposing gender gaps, and impairing vulnerabilities in social and economic aspects.
Hence, the webinar aspired to understand the relevance of gender roles, needs, and interests in volunteering at the community level; explore the distinctive contributions of volunteerism for gender equality; and consider how women’s empowerment within resilience contexts provides insights on how to enhance gender equality and inclusion in volunteerism as part of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ms. Emiliya Asadova, Policy Specialist of United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Asia and the Pacific and the Resource Speaker of the webinar, emphasized during her presentation that volunteerism enables people to work together to manage all types of risks.
She added that what communities value most about volunteering for resilience is the ability to quickly and flexibly self-organize in response to problems, and the human connections formed through volunteering. Ms. Asadova shared, “The ability of local volunteers to support and interact with each other during stressful times is a predictor of community resilience. As a result of this resilience, is really becoming strong because people are embedded in networks, relationships, and connections.”
Director Ruben M. Gamala of UP Ugnayan ng Pahinungod – Visayas gave his insights during the Reaction from Panel Members stating, “Women should have equal opportunities in volunteerism.”
He expressed that this can be done by having clear policies that are translated into concrete programs promoting the welfare of women and providing a democratic space for them to be allowed to contribute their full potential as a person, both in terms of as a participant and as a decision maker. Secondly is to demolish certain stereotypes that are counterproductive on the role of women and open up more spaces for them to grow, valuing them as human beings where they can develop their human potential and become valuable partner for development.
Ms. Karen Piccio of Office of Rep. Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba highlighted that, “The past few years that we have been in this pandemic, women evidently have been agents of change when it comes to pandemic response and in strengthening resilience and recovery measures.”
She emphasized that as advocates of inclusivity, their Office have been continuously rallying for every sector to be always gender-responsive and never gender-neutral as gender neutrality only promotes tendencies of further discrimination. Ms. Piccio also added that they made sure to include this aspect in the House Bill 9059 or the Gender-Responsive and Inclusive Pandemic Management Act of 2021. As this act helps ensure to institutionalize intersectional gender analysis on the way we respond and develop programs during the pandemic, public emergencies, and other disasters.
Ms. Camille Buenaventura of PhilCV shared their experience in San Miguel where most of the volunteers are women. “Most of the volunteer coordinators are women. The women consider volunteering, not for them to get brownie points, but they actually have the heart to it – it is very personal to them,” she added.
She also mentioned that the “The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service (TOWNS)” would be considered a potential and can support gender equality and women’s empowerment.
In his closing message as read by Ms. Ela Sarmago, PNVSCA Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe, noted that:
“Volunteerism mobilizes and engages people for their enrichment. It is a potent tool for bringing change, and expectantly, for advocating gender equality. Volunteerism serves as an avenue and stepping-stone to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” –
A total of 156 participants actively joined the activity (55 from National Government Agencies; 28 from Local Government Units; 3 from Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations; 6 from Non-Government Organizations; 45 from State Universities and Colleges, Private Universities, High Schools; 3 from International Volunteer Service Organizations; 1 from House of Representatives; and 15 private individuals).
The webinar was also livestreamed on PNVSCA’s Official Facebook page.
The author is currently the VSO II of the Program Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PCMED), Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.
Visit PNVSCA website (www.pnvsca.gov.ph) and PNVSCA Facebook (facebook.com/PNVSCA) for other stories and information on volunteering.