ISUFST leads the charge in localizing SDGs; women, children empowerment

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Herman Lagon

The Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology (ISUFST) successfully conducted the Localizing SDG, Women, and Children Empowerment Orientation and Briefing this Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at Park Inn by Radisson, Diversion Road, Mandurriao, Iloilo City. This day-long event attracted numerous representatives from the academe, provincial agencies, and local government units (LGUs) across Iloilo’s five congressional districts.

Academic participants included delegates from West Visayas State University, Iloilo Science and Technology University, Northern Iloilo State University, University of the Philippines Visayas, and University of San Agustin. Representatives from provincial agencies were predominantly from municipal social work, gender and development, and social planning departments. The Iloilo Provincial Government was also represented by its entire Technical Working Group (TWG) executives. Notable attendees included San Enrique Mayor Rosario Mediatrix Fernandez and Carles Mayor Siegfredo Betita.

The project aims to assess the local implementation of national policies on women and children, promote their rights, and position Iloilo as a Gender and Development Local Learning Hub. It focuses on generating baseline knowledge, improving and sustaining women’s and children’s welfare and rights, and integrating the SDGs into the curriculum and community engagement among local academics and leaders.

The morning was dedicated to discussing the initiative’s depth and breadth. In the afternoon, participants engaged in a workshop on identifying and collecting localized data, with inputs presented during the plenary session.

Ms. Alma Ravena, co-chairperson of the Provincial Gender and Development (GAD) Council and representative of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., highlighted critical issues. “Three out of ten children can’t read,” she noted, underscoring the need for improved literacy and numeracy. She acknowledged the initiative’s support for creating safe spaces, addressing bullying in schools, and tackling teen pregnancy and health issues among young mothers. Ravena conveyed the provincial government’s full backing for ISUFST’s efforts, stating, “We will be backing you up.”

San Enrique Mayor Rosario Mediatrix Fernandez addressed the lack of empowerment among women, especially in less educated and remote families. “This is the time to make a more concerted effort. We must work for gender inclusivity and equality. If we create empowered women, we create empowered children and an empowered society,” she asserted.

Dr. Francisco Magno, the resource speaker and workshop facilitator, elaborated on the program’s outcomes and the importance of being globally aware and competitive while addressing local needs. He emphasized that targeting women and children ensures inclusive and sustainable societal progress.

ISUFST President Dr. Nordy Siason Jr. expressed gratitude to the participants and experts from De La Salle University and the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros, a prime supporter of the initiative. He reaffirmed the university’s commitment to sustaining the project, highlighting its relevance to local governance and social justice, a guiding principle of ISUFST. “This initiative underscores our dedication to fostering local partnerships and enhancing the welfare of women and children,” he said.

Workshop facilitator Prof. Eddie Nuque emphasized ISUFST’s role as a beacon of knowledge and action, committed to the SDGs and societal transformation. He stressed the value of participant involvement from LGUs and the academe. “Your participation is invaluable, as you know your locale best. The data you provide are crucial to the process,” he remarked.

Earlier this year, ISUFST held its inception meeting and planning session, marking the start of this significant research and extension collaborative effort among local stakeholders in Iloilo. (Text by Herman Lagon/Photos by Ricky Ramos/PAMCO)

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