From gardening to dressmaking: A success story
Established in 2015, Sugod Multi-sectoral Women’s Association was organized in barangay Sugod Proper, Marawi City with the support of Al Mujaadila Women’s Association (AMWA).
Established in 2015, Sugod Multi-sectoral Women’s Association was organized in barangay Sugod Proper, Marawi City with the support of Al Mujaadila Women’s Association (AMWA). The group, which has eight active women members, began with organic gardening , which later expanded to Abaca production and establishment of a cooperative store. Their products, including palapa (spicy M’ranao side dish) made from their sakurab (scallion) harvest, are displayed at the house of one of their members, which serves as the group’s cooperative store.
However, in 2017, the Marawi siege, a five-month long armed conflict, occurred and members of the association could not visit their abaca farm. Consequently, they had to stop their abaca production. The siege also adversely affected their cooperative store. It was looted and had to be closed temporarily.
Undaunted by this dilemma, Bairon Macatangcop, the group’s leader and its members diverted their interest on dressmaking and focused their attention and energy on it. With this new livelihood, members skilled in dressmaking started to earn and were able to support the needs of their families. Their finished products included, among others, malong (a traditional long wraparound skirt), curtains, furniture covers, mattress covers and pillow cases. They also ventured on repairing garments.
AMWA and Oxfam Pilipinas provided the group with sewing machine and other necessary materials in garment making. AMWA also organized trainings to develop and enhance the members’ skills in dressmaking.
Macatangcop, one of the participants in the skills training, said she felt confident to share her knowledge and expertise to other women in Sugod who were interested in dressmaking. She even opened her house and offered her services to those who wanted to be trained as skilled dressmakers. She encouraged them to participate in their livelihood activity so they could also earn and support their families.
“Women, who have their own income, become more effective members of community as they become more resourceful and productive,” Macatangcop said.
She also observed that projects are more successful when women are involved in the implementation. She also encouraged women, who want to engage in any enterprise, to organize themselves so they could be more productive and effective.
“I seriously imbibed the knowledge and skills I learned from the seminars and trainings I attended. I sincerely practiced them and now I am enjoying the benefits,” Macatangcop added.
She also expressed her gratitude to AMWA and Oxfam Pilipinas for their support. “Because of their support, we now have a steady source of income.”
WOMEN’S JOURNEY TO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Al Mujaadila Women’s Association, Inc. (AMWA) is a non-profit and non-government organization composed of women who are committed to promote women’s human rights and condemn practices that violate these rights and acts that demean their worth and status as women.
It is an advocacy-driven organization that continuously engages in activities that include organizing workshops, seminars, and trainings designed to raise the awareness of women about their basic rights and other women’s issues. It has also been involved in community organizing to help develop self-reliant and empowered communities.
For the implementation of its projects and programs, AMWA relies on funding support from national and international agencies and foundations such as: Oxfam Pilipinas, Government of Australia, Government of Canada, The Asia Foundation, Ford Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), among others.
One of its recent projects funded by the Government of Australia through Oxfam Pilipinas is the Women Empowerment on Leadership and Development (WELD), which includes publishing stories of economically empowered women from its partner communities in different areas of Lanao Del Sur.
The journey of the women whose stories of economic empowerment are featured in this publication is closely monitored by AMWA. The latter has been a constant witness to the progress of the associations these women currently lead – from their faltering beginnings triggered by doubts and uncertainties to their present stable status that is occasionally threatened by issues from within and problems from outside like the Marawi siege in 2017 (2017), the Covid-19 pandemic (2020), and other climate-induced disasters. But in the face of these challenges, they stood firm. Undeterred by the temporary setback, they chose to rise than give up. The courageous disposition they demonstrated in times of crisis is undoubtedly a distinct badge of their commitment and empowerment.
Writer: Atty. Norma A. Maruhom | Co-writer: Dr. Raima S. Dimaampao