Monday, March 18, 2024

Isabela State University (ISU) served as one of the partners and collaborators during the 1st Isabela Gender and Development (GAD) Summit on March 18-19, 2024 at the GFN Dy Hall, Provincial Capitol, Ilagan City and the ISU-Echague Amphitheater.

With the theme, “Empowerment, Equality, and Ending Violence”, which is also anchored on the theme of the 2024 National Women’s Month Celebration (NWMC), “Lipunang Patas sa Bagong Pilipinas; Kakayahan ng Kababaihan, Patunayan!”, the summit is the largest gathering of GAD enthusiasts and advocates in the province this year.

Other partners and collaborators for the summit include: Provincial Government of Isabela and its Local Government Units (LGUs), Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Regional GAD Research Learning Center, Regional GAD Committee Region 2, PIGLAI-KALIPI, and MRSP Isabela Chapter.

The two-day summit is divided into two (2) themes: Empowerment and Equality (Day 1) and Building a More Inclusive Society (Day 2) which echoes the target outcomes of the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Plan 2019-2025 towards transforming gender norms and culture.

Empowerment and Equality

During the first day of the summit, messages and greetings were delivered by various heads and focal persons of line agencies and institutions within the province, including Dr. Ricmar P. Aquino, the University President.

His message centered on education as a powerful tool for developing empathy and the importance of diverse learning experiences to realize different objectives and perspectives. He expressed that Universities play an important role in developing empathy among students which is essential for building connections across diverse communities, fostering a sense of solidarity, and reducing the likelihood of violence which is rooted in prejudice.

“So let us embrace the value of equity, to ignite change, to cultivate a generation committed to building bridges, instead of walls, to advocate for dialogue over discord. Together, let us envision a future where violence is replaced with compassion. Where quality is not just a distant goal, but a lived reality,” Dr. Aquino encouraged the attendees of the summit.

Atty. Noel Manuel R. Lopez (Provincial Administrator, PLGU) also gave a message on behalf of the provincial government which provided a total of one (1) million pesos in resources to be used for the said summit. In his message, he shared his gratitude to the national government for ensuring the allocation of funds for gender and development initiatives and stressed that the present time is an opportune period to encourage the participation of women in nation building and that the province should be ready to defend women’s rights and their representation in councils.

“…That there should be equality amongst all the sectors and more importantly, you continue to have gatherings like this so that men of power, men who can decide, and men who should know better will recognize that we are not just partners, but you are the most integral part,” Atty. Lopez added in support to the summit.

As the highlight of the first day, keynote addresses were given by Dr. Cecilia LA Madrid-Dy (Chairperson and President, NCWP) and Dr. Emy Ezura A. Jalil (Senior Lecturer, UUM) with Women’s Leadership and the Challenges and Opportunities for Women in Malaysia as topics respectively.

Afterwards, a panel discussion on breaking economic barriers, social obstacles, and gender-based violence was facilitated with inputs from different lecturers coming from the fields of academe, science and technology, and finance and management.

Building a More Inclusive Society

On the second day of the summit, five (5) topics were discussed during an interactive seminar which are connected to the afternoon workshops participated by the summit attendees and organizers. The following topics were:


  • Healthy Masculinity and Gender Equality exploring positive male identities, breaking gender stereotypes (Speaker: Prof. Suwannit Chareen Chit, Senior Lecturer, UUM)
  • Creating a Culture of Respect and Non-Violence (Speaker: PCol Lee Allen B. Bauding, Provincial Director, PNP Isabela)
  • Creating a Welcome and Safe Spaces for LGBTQI+ (Speaker: Bernabe D. Batung, Jr., GAD Focal Person, LGU Tuguegarao)
  • Bystander Intervention, Challenging Sexist Attitudes, Raising Violence-Free Families (Speaker: Engr. Corazon D. Toribio, Provincial Director, DILG)
  • Women and Beyond (Speaker: Dr. Drolly P. Claravall, Faculty, ISU Ilagan)


The summit ended with an open forum and a closing message as an avenue for enlightenment for the attendees and as a response to the challenge of applying the knowledge and experiences gained from the two-day summit.