Sewing Peace: Women in Lanao del Norte help build community resilience

In the town of Baloi in Lanao del Norte province, Muslims and Christians have peacefully coexisted within the same villages, maintaining a strong tradition of respect for each other’s religious and cultural identity.

Matampay is one such barangay (village), where the Muslim and Christian communities have formed a peacebuilding association called Kalilintad – the Maranao word for peace.

The prevalence of armed conflict and violence in the Central Mindanao region, including in the adjacent province of Lanao del Sur, makes it even more important to sustain such unity. Moreover, because of the remoteness of their area, many residents of Baloi have limited access to social services like health, sanitation, and education. This makes them more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of displacement, should it occur. Women often play a crucial role in helping their families cope with such crises.

To support peacebuilding efforts, UNHCR recently implemented a quick-impact project (QIP) in Matampay village as a follow-up to a similar intervention led by partner organization Community and Family Services International (CFSI) in 2016.

The women of Matampay themselves expressed the need for a project that best complements their skills. Thus, UNHCR provided sewing machines and dressmaking materials, enabling them to expand livelihood initiatives through their community-based women’s organization. Additionally, UNHCR offered a refresher course on dressmaking, facilitated by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Women who underwent the training are now poised to augment their families’ income while boosting their community’s economic resilience. For UNHCR, the project also served as a way to strengthen local contacts and monitor protection issues in the area while raising awareness about the rights of internally displaced persons.

At the handover activity, local government officials expressed appreciation for the project and committed to support the women in promoting their products. Meanwhile, Matampay’s women – proudly wearing colorful clothing made by their skillful hands – looked forward to making a concrete contribution to fostering peace in their area.