Personal is Political: Caring Economy in the Philippines

By Ann Amberg, MCS, Associate Director of CPS’ Leadership & Learning Programs

Theresa Balayon is an inspired change agent, seasoned community leader and graduate of the Center for Partnership Studies’ Caring Economy Advocates Program and Changing Our Story, Changing Our Lives: Riane Eisler’s Cultural Transformation Course. She is a catalyst for change at the government level: under her guidance, Caring Economy will be part of the platform of a presidential aspirant, and she is taking the lead as a policy advocate and Caring Economy conversation leader for local barangays (village councils).

TherTheresa Balayon CAPBeeesa and her colleague Rosanita Serrano are paving the way for the inclusion of caring economics in the Philippine’s growing Gender and Development mainstreaming process. In October, Theresa coordinated and facilitated a conversation on caring economics for women community leaders hosted by the Quezon City Gender and Development Resource and Coordination Office (GADRCO).

Theresa: “We named this event Huntahan at Hugutan (Filipino for “light, oral exchanges about matters that have deep, often unstated, underpinnings”). I designed the conversations toward awareness of change. Conscious change is the theme that threads my conversation design, including assumptions, content, and process. For conversation topics, I chose Riane’s cultural transformation theory, domination-partnership continuum, and social wealth economic indicators. I provided a glossary on Partnership concepts and a PowerPoint presentation. Our conversations touched on the truism of ‘personal-is-political’; and, in general, women’s shared experiences of discrimination, harassment, invisibility, multiple burden, poverty, violence and abuse.”

“…conscious change is the theme that threads my assumptions, conversation design, content, and process…” 

Theresa has developed rigorous assessment tools for her Caring Economy events that offer participant feedback and provide measurable data for improved delivery and content development. For the October Huntahan at Hugutan event, two experts in gender and governance served as process observers and assessors.

Theresa is hosting several Huntahan at Hugutan events in the coming months. Her colleagues are planning to capture participants’ life stories as change agents and have these published as a GADRCO monograph.

Rosanita (Annie) Serrano is a Philippine leader in the women’s movement who does gender work for UN agencies at home and in Afghanistan, East Timur, Indonesia, and Thailand. Annie recently wrote to us: “…having been inspired by the Caring Economy Starter Course webinar and the two Huntahan at Hugutan sessions with Theresa Balayon and female community leaders, I injected care economy in the declaration of the Fourth National Women’s Summit that took place on November 16-17, 2015 at the Miriam College in Quezon City, Philippines. I proposed the following item to the list of women’s call and commitment:

“We recognize care work as part of the economy and support activities towards the valuation of care work by the community, the private sector and the state.” 

If the Women’s Summit participants are able to better understand the concept of the Care Economy and to learn effective ways of communicating the concept, they can also help elevate the sense of self-worth of women in their communities as they come to realize their economic contributions through both paid and unpaid work.

For more information on Leadership & Learning Programs at the Center for Partnership Studies, see caringeconomy.org/onlineclasses.