The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) honors Dr. Rhodora Masilang-Bucoy who recently resigned from her post as Chairperson of the agency, for her remarkable service and leadership in promoting women’s rights and pursuing gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) locally and internationally.
Chair Bucoy, or Lola Chair as how we call her sometimes, is truly the epitome of an empowered woman who empowers women. Long before joining PCW, she was already a beacon of inspiration for many women and girls. She is a retired Associate Professor 7 of Political Science and Development and Gender Studies at the University of the Philippines Cebu. In the same University, she proved herself as a leader being the Chair of the Social Sciences Division (now College of Social Sciences) and the Gender and Development (GAD) office and key academic committees like Extension Program, GE committee, Curriculum Committee, and UP Cebu Autonomy, among others.
She is a recognized gender, human rights, and development advocate and practitioner and is an accredited member of the national gender and development resource pool. She has been involved in civil society work as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of NGOs such as the Women's Resource Center of Visayas, United Nations University Regional Centre of Expertise in Sustainable Development. She is also an active member of the Philippine Political Science Association and the Women Studies Association of the Philippines.
One of her major accomplishments pre-PCW is founding the Sidlak Gender Resource Center 7, which leads training programs on gender and development to promote gender-responsive governance, GEWE at the sub-national level.
Dr. Bucoy has always been an advocate for GEWE. She has served as resource person in various capacity development activities such as training and public fora on gender and social concerns. She has also authored a number of published works including “Cebuano Grassroots Women's Consciousness in the Context of Urban Poverty”, “Notes on the Status of Cebu Women”, “Combating Violence against Women in Cebu”, “Assessment of an Anti -Trafficking Project: Its Five-Year Impact and Change in the Public Justice System”, “Moving Forward with Gender And Development in the Island of Bohol, Philippines: A Handbook on Gender Mainstreaming”, “Gender Mainstreaming in Regional and Development Councils in Central Visayas, Philippines” and “Impact of Teaching Women’s Human Rights in the Schools”. Moreover, she has been involved in various researches on GAD, sustainable development, feminism, women’s movement, the Moro National Liberation Movement, feminization of poverty, “engendering” of the curriculum, Women’s Studies Theory and Praxis, Rights-Based Perspective to Development, and human trafficking.
Her exemplary efforts as an advocate earned her numerous accolades including the Human Rights Defender’s Award by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, the Justice German Lee Awards on Transformative Leadership, the Tatak University of the Philippines Alumni Award for Outstanding Public Service in Women Empowerment, and the University Center of Women and Gender Studies 2018 DAKILA Awards on Feminist Activism in Public Service for her outstanding contributions in the promotion of GEWE.
Dr. Bucoy in PCW
Her advocacies were amplified during her stint in PCW.
Prior to being Chair of PCW, Dr. Bucoy served as PCW Commissioner representing the Education and Academe Sector, from September 2014 to June 2016. As Commissioner, she championed the rights of indigenous women and pushed for the introduction of a gender-fair curriculum into the K to 12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd).
She was appointed PCW Chairperson in September 2016 and has since then been active in the PCW Board, leading the advocacy for GEWE in the Philippines and at the international arena.
During her term, the PCW, being a policy-making body working towards GEWE, worked for the enactment of the Expanded Maternity Leave Act, the Universal Health Care Act, and led the formulation of the Safe Spaces Act’s Implementing Rules and Regulations, among others.
Dr. Bucoy aimed for PCW to reach out to women and girls in the grassroots and improve the gender-responsiveness of government agencies and entities. Thus, under her term, PCW was able to strengthen collaboration with Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC), a mechanism to mainstream gender in the regional and local development councils. PCW also relaunched its official awards and incentives system, Gender and Development Transformation & Institutionalization through Mainstreaming of Programs, Agenda, Linkages & Advocacies (GADtimpala) Awards, under her management. To aid in bridging the gap for GAD capacity development at the national and local level, the Commission likewise expanded its pool of GAD resource persons all over the country, and certified additional local government units as GAD Local Learning Hubs.
At the international level, Dr. Bucoy has actively and excellently represented the Philippines in various meetings and conferences, and led the country’s hosting of ASEAN events/gatherings. She participated in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) sessions, chaired the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Women, and actively participated and chaired some sessions of the ASEAN Committee on Women meetings, among others. She was also hands on in the preparation of the Beijing for Platform Action (BPfA) + 25 report, which chronicles the progress of the country’s implementation of this global roadmap.
Under her leadership, the PCW also successfully hosted a series of Senior Officials Conferences on Gender Mainstreaming in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Sectoral Bodies in 2018 and 2019.
In November 2019, Dr. Bucoy was elected to lead the review of a draft UN resolution advancing women’s rights at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific assembly, a feat proving her caliber and exemplifying Filipino women’s leadership.
PCW also took many organizational strides under her helm, including the agency’s certification for ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management Systems or QMS) in 2019, with her full support and motivation for the PCW Secretariat.
But other than these accomplishments, Dr. Bucoy exemplifies the GAD advocacy in everything that she does or says. She advices us to make PCW the tool to make change for women and girls, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalized- regardless of class, age, sex, gender, language, ethnicity, religion, ideology, disability, education, and status. She encourages us to always fight to end discrimination against women, misogyny, sexism, rape culture, and machismo. She always reminds us to respect the diverse perspectives of women and to do our best in serving the Filipino women in whatever way we can.
As PCW moves forward, she told us to remain steadfast in fulfilling PCW’s mandate, build on the gains we have achieved through the decades, and pursue innovations in capacitating government agencies on GEWE, for the benefit of all Filipino women and girls.
As we tell her “thank you” and “see you around”, we firmly believe that our Lola Chair will forever be our ally in this advocacy, because that is her core as a woman, wherever she may be and whatever endeavor she pursues.