by Nina Somera, Isis International

Philippine senator and secretary general of the 1985 Nairobi Women's Conference Leticia Ramos-Shahani leads the gathering of Philippine feminists in preparation for the Asia Pacific NGO Forum on Beijing + 15. The National Women's Summit will be held from 20 to 21 October 2009 in the Miriam College.

Currently the Dean of International Development and Humanitarian Studies, Shahani describes the Summit as a testament of Philippine women's leadership despite the challenges confronted by all feminist movements, including the drastic cuts in funding and the rise of fundamentalist regimes.

As Shahani explained, "So much has happened since 1995. Women have to be reliant in a collective sense. We are in a slightly desperate time. Yet we still come forward and see the hope for our country and region." It is for this reason that the Summit has adopted the theme, "Women's Self-Reliant Leadership and Collective Empowerment in Times of Crisis."

The National Women's Summit aims to assess the gains and gaps in the last 15 years since the 1995 Beijing Women's Conference. It also intends to identify the best practices and appropriate responses for persistent and emerging threats such as violence against women, the feminisation of migration, financial crisis and its impact on women's well-being and climate change.

Special topics include gender and HIV/AIDS, women's health across the life cycle, governance and corruption, gender, peace and security, women and spirituality, gender, media and ICT and young women and the girl-child.

Shahani and the Women and Gender Institute (WAGI) assured that no attribution will be made on individuals and organisations in the final documents in an effort to keep the process open and the participation uninhibited. "We can use this gathering for women to speak out loud. That is why we have this caveat of confidentiality," Shahani added.

Interested participants may contact WAGI at +63 2 580-5400 local 3590 or +63 2 435-9229 or wagi[AT]mc[DOT]edu[DOT]ph

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