Cotabato City – The Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines launched an initiative that seeks to strengthen the capacities of Bangsamoro women peacebuilders and mediators in facilitating mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) for vulnerable groups and communities, especially those affected by armed conflict.
In recognition of the importance of MHPSS in promoting community-based healing, reconciliation, and peace and resilience building, the partnership between the Netherlands and UNDP Philippines will enable the members of the Women Insider Mediators – Rapid Action and Mobilization Platform (WIM-RAMP) to build on their capacities in integrating MHPSS in their peacebuilding work wherein they accompany vulnerable sector such as internally-displaced persons, women, children, and youth.
The WIM-RAMP, which is part of the joint collaboration of the Bangsamoro Women Commission (BWC) and UNDP, is comprised of community-based women mediators from Moro and Indigenous Peoples communities in BARMM, who are committed to work towards strengthening the role of women in building peaceful and resilient communities in the region.
In a message delivered on behalf of BWC Commissioner MP Bainon G. Karon during the partnership discussion, the importance of MHPSS initiatives was highlighted particularly such that “mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services play a particularly important role during armed conflict and in other situations of violence and emergencies. Violence, fear and uncertainty can create chaos and deplete community resources. As a result, people experience psychological distress that impairs their daily functioning and social interaction.”
In her message to the women insider mediators, Dutch Ambassador Saskia de Lang shed light on how the initiative can contribute to the efforts in building sustainable and inclusive peace in the region.
“Women face a lot of trauma during conflict, and overcoming them is an essential part of the peace and reconciliation process. Providing women with mental health and psychosocial support is a recognition of their role. Through this program of mental health support that my country supports we hope that women will find comfort. They bring their perspective and concerns to the table and in the interest of the communities they need to be heard,” the Ambassador said.
To kick-off the Netherlands-supported project, UNDP hosted a conversation-reflection session on MHPSS in Peacebuilding in the BARMM. This was attended by partners from the BARMM government, civil society, and the academe. The activity provided a space for the substantive exchange of experiences and ideas, and for actors involved in the MHPSS in Peacebuilding space to be linked with each other.
The initial activity also provided a learning platform for civil society partners that are new to MHPSS to realize the opportunities and the available resources that can be tapped for further implementation of MHPSS in Peacebuilding initiative.
“With support from the Kingdom of Netherlands, UNDP will continue to advance women’s roles in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a significant and visible manner and support the efforts of the WIM-RAMP in responding to the needs of conflict-affected communities, as Mental Health is a particular area of interest of these groups,” noted Dr. Selva Ramachandran, UNDP Philippines Resident Representative.
The partnership falls under UNDP’s integrating women, peace, and security (IWPS) agenda, which aims to strengthen the role of women in the region as active agents of change, influencing policy and decision-making processes, peacebuilding initiatives, and post-conflict reconstruction efforts.