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Promoting inclusive household decision-making to empower rural women

MINDANAO — Women and girls in rural communities have been providing invaluable contributions in development, particularly towards nutrition, food security, and building climate resilience. However, gender and development indicators have consistently shown that rural women and girls are generally more vulnerable to poverty and the impacts of climate change as compared to rural men and women in urban communities.

In 2019, Action Against Hunger Philippines with the guidance of our International Gender Desk conducted a gender analysis within our partner communities at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The results of the analysis showed that roles in Mindanao seem to have changed from traditionally assigned gender roles and responsibilities, with women now being more involved in productive activities. However, this does not seem to have reduced the allotted time women dedicate to reproductive work. With women spending more time on productive tasks, but not less reproductive ones, a significant increase in their overall workload was noted.

Door-to-door nutrition and hygiene promotion sessions in Lanao Del Sur | Photo by Theresa Cortes for Action Against Hunger (Lanao del Sur, Philippines © 2020)

The gender analysis also noted that although both women and men participate in income-generating activities and decide together on some key issues, key decisions like mobility, heritage, what specific work is assigned to each person, and the use of family land, etc. still fall under the decision of men. Evidently, this is one of the factors barring women’s access to income-generating activities since farming is considered the region’s main source of income. Agricultural labor like tending to the fields is mainly considered as the responsibility of men. Therefore, it comes with no surprise that men also present the highest percentages of agriculture knowledge.

Because of our commitment to mainstream gender equality in all our programs, we are aiming to maximize project outcomes while promoting gender empowerment. To do this, we plan to integrate interventions that are influencing household decision-making into existing food security & livelihoods programming.

HHDM Session in Calanogas facilitated by the project team | Photo by DRR-BHA Project Team for Action Against Hunger (Calanogas, Philippines © 2021)

Household decision-making impacts child health and nutrition in multiple ways. It influences underlying causes of undernutrition: decisions related to household production, household consumption, and caregiving practices. Household decision-making can also lead to improvements in women’s mobility; control of own time and income; men’s trust, confidence, and respect for women; women’s own self-confidence; and the sharing of household chores.

Photo by Rosa May Maitem for Action Against Hunger (Maguindanao, Philippines © 2013)

Using the Household Decision-Making (HHDM) Approach, we aim to shift household behaviors regarding decision-making and distribution of household work by spotlighting the work performed by women at reproductive and productive levels and adding more value to their contributions. The HHDM approach will hopefully encourage family members to contribute equitably—allowing each member to learn, cope, adapt and transform in the face of shocks and stresses and therefore increase household and community resilience in the long run.

“This innovative approach will enhance our FSL strategies making it more inclusive and gender transformative,” – Menchie Lacson

The HHDM approach is based on the household dialogue toolkit developed by Mercy Corps, which we’ve adapted appropriately to the context of Filipino communities, particularly in Mindanao. This was made possible through the support and guidance of Bishnu Bahadur Khatri, a seasoned international expert, and researcher on household dialogue along with human rights, child rights, social inclusion, gender-based violence, climate change, and gender equality among many others.

HHDM Session in Calanogas facilitated by the project team | Photo by DRR-BHA Project Team for Action Against Hunger (Calanogas, Philippines © 2021)

A Household Decision Making Approach Facilitator Guidebook is currently in the works, which we will be piloting through our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction project. In the meantime, the HHDM approach nonetheless has since been implemented following an online ‘training of trainers’ (ToT) on Family and Household Dialogue. The five-day training was facilitated by Bishnu Khatri last from April 8-12, 2021 and was participated by Action Against Hunger staff from the Philippines’ Manila head office, Cotabato field office, and international headquarters.

Action Against Hunger staff with Bishnu Khatri (top-right) during the last day of the HHD Training (April 12, 2021)

“This innovative approach will enhance our FSL strategies making it more inclusive and gender transformative, [We’re] grateful for your generosity in sharing your knowledge and expertise on this approach Bishnu,” says Menchie Lacson, the Food Security & Livelihoods (FSL) Coordinator and selected Gender Champion for Action Against Hunger Philippine Mission.

As we push for long-term development, we are hopeful that more women and girls in rural communities will have active involvement in decision-making and community participation through effective and inclusive household dialogues.

‘Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Area at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao’ is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger.


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Real Life Heroes – Angela Nalaunan

Angela’s involvement with Action Against Hunger started back in 2014 when she became part of our Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) Emergency Response in Northern Iloilo. Now, she is a Project Assistant for our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction (DRR) project in BARMM, and a Real-Life Hero!

Get to know Ma. Angela Nalaunan and what sparked her motivations to become a catalyst for change.


What is your role in Action Against Hunger?

As project assistant for the “Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Areas at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao” project, my responsibility is coordinating with community partners and leaders, especially with the local government at both barangay and municipal levels. I also facilitate training sessions and provide awareness and information to the community with regards to disaster risk reduction, and resilient livelihood.

How long have you been working as a humanitarian worker?

I’ve been working as a humanitarian for a decade now. I was involved with Action Against Hunger before, from 2014 to 2015, as PhATSS Officer for our Typhoon Yolanda Emergency Response in Northern Iloilo.

What motivated you to become a humanitarian worker?

Being a research student when I was in college, I was exposed to different communities in different situations. After seeing and understanding what they were experiencing, it gave me a sense of purpose— to become a catalyst for change. That’s why I became a humanitarian worker.

Why are you making this sacrifice?

Working with different kinds of people is a challenging job. But being a vessel of hope, sharing one’s expertise, and seeing people with a smile on their faces is one of the most rewarding things in this world.

What have been the challenges to your work?

There are times when work is a bit out of control and things don’t go as planned. But, what is important is that you overcome these obstacles because you want to be a part of something good.

What motivates you to keep doing your work even with these challenges?

Always go back to your purpose, remind yourself why are you are here, and you will just overcome those challenges.

What are you most proud of?

Being a catalyst for change for a lot of people.

What climate change impact have you seen with your own eyes?

Being in a DRR project I have seen and expose to a lot of natural disasters like floods, typhoons, and earthquakes. Seeing this community affected by this calamity is heartbreaking, it took away their property, livelihood, and worst their loved ones, and it is very devastating.

How are you taking action against climate change?

By sharing awareness, facilitating training, and giving information regarding Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Actions that the community could understand.


Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Area at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao‘ is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger.

Action Against Hunger provides emergency response equipment to Maguindanao

MAGUINDANAO — The municipality of Datu Saudi Ampatuan received a total of 745 various emergency response equipment from Action Against Hunger last August 27, 2021. This intervention is part of our USAID-funded disaster risk reduction (DRR) project at the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) which aims to strengthen the local resilience of hazard-prone communities.

The equipment were allotted to the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management (MDRRM) Office, and five barangays namely: Dapiawan, Elian, Gawang, Kitango, and Madia. DSA Municipal Administrator Musib Tan, MDRRM Officer Rohanna Salik, and the Association of Barangay Chairpersons (ABC) President Anwar Kedtag received the emergency equipment during the short turn-over ceremony. The ceremony was also participated by representatives from each of the five barangays.

DSA Municipal Administrator Musib Tan shares a short message during the turn-over of emergency response equipment. (2021 © Photo by Michael Ryan Queman for Action Against Hunger)

“We are thankful for all the support—from capacity building on DRR and livelihood to the provision of equipment. These will help enable our response to disasters more effective,” said Musib Tan.


Strengthening Local Resilience and Building Capacities in Area at High Risk of Natural Hazards in BARMM, Mindanao‘ is a disaster risk reduction (DRR) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID-BHA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger.

Written by Michael Ryan Queman | Edited by Joyce Sandajan

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