Gender and Development Office
The Gender and Development Office of the University of the Philippines Visayas Cebu College started as a Women’s Desk in the early 1990s. It was part of a system-wide program to promote gender equity through the establishment of the University Center for Women’s Studies in December 1988.
In 1992, UP Cebu formed a core gender advocates that included Dr. Rhodora Bucoy, Prof. Madrileña de la Cerna, Dr. Sofia Logarta, Prof. Purita Sanchez, and Ms. Portia Dacalos. Prof De la Cerna served as the first coordinator of the Desk followed by Dr. Logarta. Dr. Bucoy’s turn came in 1995. Most of the pioneers attended trainings on gender and the curriculum in UP Diliman and Iloilo in 1992 and 1993. They also attended and sponsored conferences of the Women’s Studies Association of the Philippines.
Majority became actively involved in advocacy work of various NGOs serving women. Prof. De la Cerna and Dr. Bucoy had special trainings on gender abroad. All these trainings and international travels have broadened their perspective about women and their struggle towards empowerment.
As a modest response to the challenge of education in the 1995 UN Platform for Action for Women adopted Beijing. UP Cebu initiated the Women Empowerment Program under its Ugnayan ng Pahinungod, the university’s volunteer program , with Dr. Bucoy as coordinator from January 1996 to June 1997. The program established partnership with women NGOs to carry out gender trainings for students and teachers. The service learning option was provided to students enrolled in Dr. Bucoy’s Social Political THought classes in 1996-1997. Instead of writing a paper, the student may opt to serve for a few hours in the accredited NGO or collaborating government agency and submit a reflection paper on his/her experience. THose who opt to undergo service learning shared how their experiences made them socially aware and compassionate to the victims of violence.
UP Cebu through its GAD office likewise forged linkages with schools like the Cebu State College to advance a gender-fair curriculum. It mobilized students to undertake service learning in institutions catering to women like the Women’s Resource Center of Cebu and the DSWD’s Shelter for women victims of violence. While extension services from part of our advocacy work, the GAD office’s main effort is mainly focused on mainstreaming of gender in the curriculum. Given the discriminatory treatment of women and women’s issues in academic discourse, action necessarily focused on the elimination of sexism in knowledge construction. Initially, we exchanged materials like books and videotapes that we used in teaching and in the numerous gender sensitivity trainings conducted since 1992. We started to emphasize women’s role in various stages of historical development. In our exchanges with our students, we were happy to note that we have helped promote gender sensitivity and an awareness of women’s significant role in our nation’s history.
In 2000, the Women’s Desk was institutionalized and called the Gender and Development Office. Its mandate is in line with that of the UCWS’ — to encourage and strenghten teching, research extension and advocacy on and for women in the university. The establishment of Sidlak Gender Resource Center (GRC-7) for Central Visayas in September 2003 further strengthened GAD’s programs. Sidlak, a Visayan term for radiance, represents the desire to provide enlightenment on gender and development issues and concerns and to undertake sustained advocay for gender responsive governance in the region through its synergy of government, academe and civil society.