The Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) join the women and men across the world in commemorating International Women’s Day today, March 8, 2024.  We are particularly joyous for the feats of the Indigenous women farmers who through their collective initiatives have contributed to the advancement of the community’s sustainable agricultural practices, in the protection and management of forest and biodiversity, and in adapting to the impact of climate change towards community resiliency.

Some in particular are exploring rice varieties that are resistant to drought, heavy rainfall, and pests.  The Indigenous farming system is continuously being enhanced with modern science to achieve food sufficiency and defend food sovereignty while contributing to the global objective of reducing carbon emissions from the farm.

We underscore the persistence of the women of Kalinga and Apayao in asserting their inherent right to ancestral land and use of natural resources, the building block of their customary economic security.   By custom, Indigenous women in the Cordillera have equal inheritance rights, ownership of land, and access to natural resources.  CDPC puts high value in this customary Indigenous system where women share equal rights to land and property and equal access to natural resources and the accompanying obligation to protect and defend these.

Meanwhile, we are particularly concerned with the continuing tolerance of the current administration on the various attacks against Indigenous Peoples rights defenders, particularly among the Indigenous Women.   We decry the action of the Anti-Money Laundering Council in designating as terrorists four leaders of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, two of them women, subsequently leading to the freezing of bank accounts of the organization and those of their members and their families.  Indigenous women are sharing the merciless brunt of the Anti-Terrorism Act under which claiming and defending rights and sharing resources and support constitute a crime.

As we commemorate today’s International Women’s Day, we take stock of the valuable contribution of women in our continuing journey to make this world a just and democratic place for every gender, every race, every nationality, and rich and poor to live in.