While traditional philosophies view improvement as a matter of leadership in the government context, the DICT takes a progressive stance with its Gender and Development Summit 2016, which focuses on Organizational Change. As opposed to the previous year wherein topics were exclusively about individual development, the tracks this year infused the DICT desired outcomes with the gender sensitivity and development initiatives of the organization.
Using ICT as a catalyst of change, speakers bridged the idea of gender equality and sensitivity by providing suggested ethical frameworks within the organization to address areas of concerns within vulnerable sectors. Despite the abuse of ICT, advocates such as Liza Garcia of the Foundation for Media Alternatives and Atty. Allen Liberato-Espino agree that can also be a space for protecting women and promoting equality for all Filipinos.
Another notable aspect of the summit is the conscious effort of improving the organization to improve its individuals and vice-versa.
In her speech, Atty. Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones of the Career Executive Service Board shared her experiences and opinions as a partner of the former ICT Office. Taking Secretary Salalima’s words: “The department takes the first step by looking at ourselves and taking action to evolve, as Panatang Makabayan would say, ‘sa isip, salita, at sa gawa’,” Atty. Velasco-Allones provided insights for improvements in the community. She challenged everyone to realize the departmental projects ahead of time by shifting into a participative and collaborative environment guided by the political philosophy that the citizen is the main priority of civil servants.
The organization also recognizes the need to further improve the individual belief systems of its members regarding gender issues, and the talks curiously fell on October 12, the international “Coming Out” day. The committee invited Ms. Gigi Garcia, a transgender advocate who spoke about her personal experience in transitioning to become a woman, and all of the challenges that she faced in doing so. While some members of the agency found themselves in unfamiliar territory, they found connection through human issues such as family issues, and were able to empathize with Ms. Garcia’s experiences. Finally, Ms. Alexandra Castro expanded everyone’s knowledge about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression, stating that “gender is not a mode of assortment, but a spectrum.” She further discussed about the legal aspects in which LGBTQIA Filipinos are still experiencing discrimination, such as employment opportunities, visitation rights in hospitals, and police harassment, among others. Closing, she called for better treatment for the members of the LGBTQIA community within DICT and beyond it.
The Gender and Development Summit is a yearly initiative of the DICT to create a safe working environment and to improve the individual lives of its employees through a series of workshops.