Farmer to Farmer (F2F) Philippines and Gender and Social Inclusion (GSI)

Posted on 09/14/2021

I first met the F2F Philippines team back in November of 2019. F2F was seeking a gender expert to support the team in developing a training that could become a part of the F2F Volunteer Orientation Package. Over the next few months, I worked with the team in the Philippines and U.S. to develop a module entitled, "Foundations in Gender and Social Inclusion." This included a basic tool F2F volunteers could use to better incorporate gender and social inclusion (GSI) into the design of their volunteer assignment workplans. F2F Philippines committed to sharing this training with all incoming volunteers from March 2021 forward.

Yakap Main Robert

This work was done remotely, but coincidentally, I took another gender-related USAID assignment in the Philippines during February and March of 2021. This was my first time physically in country and this trip deepened my interest in the country and specifically, in GSI work within the country. Happily, F2F had a second assignment they asked me to support. This second assignment was to work with the Yakap Cooperative in Quezon Province on strengthening their GSI knowledge and capabilities, specifically as relates to their work in the coconut subsector. The objectives were:

  1. Provide Yakap tools to integrate gender-sensitive and responsive standard operating procedures (SOPs) into their programs and operations based on a gender-sensitive supply chain analysis.
  2. Train key personnel of Yakap in integrating gender-sensitive and responsive SOPs into their programs and operations.

I agreed to this assignment, but before we could move forward, COVID-19 worsened on the global stage and countries went into lock-down. Realizing that things were not going to open back up for a very long time due to COVID-19, we made the decision to move forward with this assignment remotely. Naturally, working remotely had its limitations, especially considering that COVID-19 literally put many in survival mode of their livelihoods and health. For this reason, we called this time period Phase I of the volunteer consultancy, which will be followed-up with Phase II when the Covid-19 environment is more under control.

As far as background, it is important to note that a driving force for interest in GSI can be framed under a 2013 Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) issuance of the Memorandum Circular No. 2013-22: “Guidelines on Mainstreaming Gender and Development (GAD) in Cooperatives." Following this, the CDA implemented training on GAD and developed a Gender Equality Self-Assessment Tool in order to support cooperatives identifying their GAD training needs. GAD guidelines are not a part of the cooperative licensing requirements, but CDA does strongly encourage cooperatives to do the following:

  • Complete a Gender Sensitivity Training (GST)
  • Complete the Gender Equality Self-Assessment Tool
  • Establish a GAD Committee and identify a GAD Focal Person
  • Develop a GAD sensitive Budget and Development Plan.

The Yakap Cooperative has been a member of the CDA since August 1, 2008 and has prioritized GAD within their work. As part of Phase I of this volunteer consultancy, we were able to complete the following:

  • An orientation with Yakap Cooperative core staff on a general understanding of GSI and what this means within their work.
  • Completion of GSI Analysis Report. This analysis was based on data collection on GSI within the coconut subsector through the completion of 9 Key Informant Interview (KIIs) carried out by myself and 4 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), carried-out by Yakap senior staff. I was able to facilitate a remote training with Yakap Cooperative senior staff on how to prepare for and facilitate a FGD prior to them organizing the FGDs.
  • Consultation with other F2F volunteers to support cross-pollination of GSI data collection efforts and awareness across volunteer consultancies.

Though all work has been remote to-date, I can still see how there have been a few “ah-ha” moments on what GSI means and how relevant it is to everyone’s work. The conversation on GSI, among F2F staff and their volunteers has increased, which is the most important first step toward realizing true gender integration and social inclusion within activities. Moreover, I want to highlight the sincere interest Yakap Cooperative staff have in the topic of GSI. It has been a pleasure to meet them remotely and I look forward to meeting the F2F and Yakap Cooperative teams in-person once Covid-19 is under control to move forward with Phase II of the volunteer consultancy.

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