Today’s activist is Fatima Pir Allian, spokesperson for Bangsamoro women in Mindanao (the Philippines).
(For information about the long struggle for peace and the establishment of human rights in Mindanao, see here. The roots of the conflict lie in large part in the discrimination against the minority Muslim and indigenous population of Mindanao.)
Tell us about yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
I am Fatima Pir Tillah Allian but friends and family call me by my nick-name: Shalom. In 2005, after a stint as a college instructor at the Mass Communications Department of the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City, the Philippines, I joined the development world as an NGO worker.
I belong to and represent a group of women called Nisa Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro (‘Women for Justice in the Bangsamoro’). Our work and mission is:
1. To provide a venue for Bangsamoro women for a progressive interpretation of Islamic teachings on gender, women’s rights, peace and development.
2. To influence decision-makers in policy development towards more spaces for women in law,religion, culture, and institutions.
3. To provide technical assistance to network members and their communities on issues related to the network’s advocacies.
4. To link the Muslim women of Mindanao through the network to other like-minded women’s organizations and to the rest of the Muslim ummah.
5. To understand and document the condition and position of Muslim women in Mindanao and other areas in the Philippines.
Since 2012 we have been working with, consulting and documenting narratives and recommendations from a number of women, men and youth community leaders on peace process related issues between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
One of the important parts of the agreement is to document narratives and recommendations of the Bangsamoro people as part of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission’s (TJRC) output (2015). Nisa Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro was part of the team that documented the historical injustices, legitimate grievances and marginalizations of the Bangsamoro people, such as through land dispossession and human rights violations. But we are also focused on the ways forward in terms of healing and reconciliation.
In addition, we also respond to emergency situations by providing gender-sensitive humanitarian assistance to both human-induced and natural disasters. In whatever ways we can, we respond to the needs of women, including needs that arise from gender-based injustice and violence.
In the year ahead, how will you contribute to advancing the aims and goals of The Shiloh Project?
Personally, my hope is to continue contributing to the work Nisa is doing. I am committed, too, to strengthening our advocacies in responding to the needs of the community. Empowering the marginalized is not an easy task. The need to continue the engagement with the marginalized, the invisible members of the community, who are disproportionately female, is pivotal in ensuring thatthey, too have a platform and are heard. Utilizing a lens that is sensitive to both gender and the advancement of peace in the process of policy formulation with decision makers, serves moreeffectively to address the lived realities of marginalized groups, whether they consist of women, men, youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities, or any disadvantaged groups in our society. Responding to the needs of the community, means that the community is consulted and part of the process as we do our planning. That is one way to empower communities. People sometimes think that we know what they need but actually we always need to be ready to learn from them. The communities serve as our classroom. There is so much to learn and we appreciate the exchanges and the kinds of connections we form. Communication, exchange, a willingness to learn from all – that is how I hope to advance the aims and goals of the Shiloh Project.