In my previous column, I described the experience of the Health Management Research Group (HMRG) Foundation in Davao City in conducting an action research about men’s experiences and views about domestic violence in select rural and urban barangay (villages). The research results led to the crafting and implementation of a comprehensive five-year pioneering program by HMRG in six pilot city barangay that engaged men in preventing and managing domestic violence, and in promoting gender equality. Lessons obtained from the HMRG program have contributed to the inclusion of the MR GAD program in the 2020 amended Women’s Development Code and in the passage of the “MR GAD Ordinance in Davao City” on July 27, 2021.
It is interesting to note that this legislation was submitted to the Sangguniang Panlungsod by the Committee on Women, Children and Family Relations that was headed by a female city councilor. To my knowledge, this is the first local legislation that is devoted solely to men’s involvement in gender and development. I will briefly present its major contents.
The MR GAD Ordinance is a 14-page document with five articles that focus on men’s varying needs and development at different stages of their lifespan, i.e., from boyhood to adolescence and adulthood. This legislation defines MR GAD as:
“…a package of programs, activities, projects and services designed at transforming communities and empowering men as partners to a gender-responsive planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the development agenda of the City Government of Davao. It primarily employs men-talking-to-men and peer-to-peer strategies to influence behavioral, rational, attitudinal, cultural and structural transformation toward gender equality with the end view of:
“1. Harnessing the influence and responsibility of men in key government positions to advance reforms in and become leaders in mainstreaming gender and development in local governance and improving gender-related services;
“2. Managing the victims and doers of gender-based violence through community-based capacity development interventions, transformative education sessions, efficient referral pathways and appropriate services; and
“3. Providing spaces for men and boys to discuss openly without fear of ridicule or shaming their personal and societal issues and concerns pertinent to gender and development.”
This progressive ordinance has identified programs, services and specific strategies that are responsive to the following core elements: 1) boy children and adolescent boys; 2) education and training; 3) gender-based violence; 4) male-associated risky behaviors; 5) men’s mental health; 6) policy, leadership and governance; 7) research and referral pathways; 8) reproductive and sexual health and rights; 9) responsible parenthood; and 10) sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (Sogie).
Support structures shall be created particularly 1) MR GAD teams, peer organizers for gender interventions (Barangay POGI), and a counseling or listening room in all barangay; 2) a center for men’s health under the supervision of the City Health Office, which shall provide comprehensive services for men’s health care and development; 3) sharing of best and promising practices in the implementation of the MR GAD programs, projects and activities (PPAs) during the Women’s Summit; 4) creation of a MR GAD Advisory Council, which will be headed by the city mayor; and 5) the involvement of the city’s Integrated Gender and Development Division (IGDD) that will oversee the effective implementation of this ordinance.
Every local or barangay MR GAD team shall develop an annual MR GAD Plan that is consistent with the 5-year strategic goals of Davao City’s GAD Plan, which shall be crafted by the IGDD. The local plans shall be integrated with the comprehensive GAD Plan of all the barangay and the City of Davao. The MR GAD Plan shall cover a systematically crafted set of PPAs that shall be implemented by the MR GAD local teams annually. There will also be priority MR GAD PPAs, annual local team and city-wide accomplishment reports and recognition by the city government of the best and promising MR GAD practices.
Penalties for those who commit any gender-based violence or any act of discrimination against another person, a confidentiality rule, implementing rules and regulations, budget allocation, separability, repealing and effectivity clauses are specified in this ordinance. The implementing rules and regulations are expected to come out in September this year.
The whole country, and perhaps the rest of the world, is watching earnestly how the local government of Davao City will implement this progressive ordinance. It may not be done soon because of the continuing adverse effects of Covid-19. Several challenges are anticipated during the early implementation phase of this legislation. When it would be executed diligently alongside the amended 2020 Women’s Development Code, the MR GAD Ordinance in Davao City will set a precedent for other local government units, that when boys and men are engaged actively in the prevention and management of gender-based violence and there are programs and services that are responsive to their gendered needs, gender equality, peace and harmony in the families, communities and the city will be achieved in the long run.
Originally Appeared Here