by Danica Marie Supnet

Editor’s Note: Danica Marie Supnet is ICSC’s lead analyst for climate governance and a fellow of the Asian consortium Women and Earth Initiative (WORTH) of the Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW). This is the last blog out of three which culminates the WORTH Initiative project in Guiuan Eastern, Samar; the first two blogs focused on the work on the ground back in March and May 2021.

The planning innovation guide for local governments in mainstreaming gender, health, sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the context of climate change, which also includes the workshop modules used, can be accessed here.

The WORTH Initiative Project is the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities’ (ICSC) first local governance work on mainstreaming gender in climate adaptation strategies. Gender mainstreaming in climate planning is crucial and documentary requirement such as a sex-disaggregated data is often the basis that assumes representation of genders and gender responsiveness of plans and proposed initiatives. The context of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR)  is commonly attributed to direct health-related issues such as maternal health and hygiene but is limited on gender dimensions which are related to discussions of gendered socio-economic impacts of climate change.  These are evident not only in the national-level policy processes but also at the local level. This is the siloed approach that the project tried to capture through local context and the use of innovative activities with help from our local government partners in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

The project started in 2020. Our team and partners in Guiuan were ready for the workshops but we were forced to return to Manila and postpone the activities due to the impending lockdown because of the alarming cases of COVID-19. The challenges of the pandemic that kept us hanging and uncertain of the possibilities of visiting Guiuan were frustrating but we knew that we had to prioritize everyone’s health. This year, while it was exciting to finally be allowed to travel, we had to be extra cautious and mindful to ensure every participant’s safety. 

Last March was a celebration of successful events for both ICSC and the local government of Guiuan:  kickstarting the WORTH inception workshops, International Women’s Day, and the Quincentennial Commemoration of the First Circumnavigation in the World and Christianity in the Philippines. The WORTH project activities were sustained through the community roll-out that helped the team address the missing gender and health-SRHR aspects of the climate impacts. This was our first planning-related activity that pushed us outside our comfort zone of climate-heavy discussions. While gender is considered as an important aspect in planning especially in the context of climate policy,  initial assessment and community discussions showed that the usual impact analysis was limited only to direct impacts of climate change. With the help of our colleagues and advisors working on gender and SRHR, we had the guidance and affirmation that we are on the right track. To cap off our campaign, we ended our visit with a strategic planning of adaptation initiatives and resource mobilization

The unending support of our local government partners helped us work on the adaptation and resource mobilization plan despite the pressure of the ongoing mandated planning and budgeting processes. This planning innovation initiative has been acknowledged by our partners in Guiuan as a capacity-building activity and a validation of their work in the local government and the community. These are humbling remarks that we can take home from our time in Guiuan for the WORTH initiative. 

While this is the end of the project, it will never be a permanent goodbye. This is just laying down the foundation for a more evident linkage between gender and climate change which we hope will be built upon by succeeding projects that will benefit the people of Guiuan. The completion of this project is also a testament to how receptive communities are to opportunities that empower them despite the difficulty of the circumstances brought by the global pandemic. This on-the-ground experience even in a time where face-to-face interaction has been hindered is the kind of moments that people in development work live for. We are humbled by the strength and willingness of the people of Guiuan. Rest assured that we in ICSC will take this as inspiration to continue to work with our partners for resiliency and better development.