Women’s Participation in Barangay Politics: A View from the Ground


by: Josephine T. Firmase, Alice Prieto-Carolino


This study analyzes the experiences of women in barangay politics from two (2) coastal municipalities-Guimbal and Tigbauan-in the Province of Iloilo, Philippines. Sixty-nine (69) women barangay officials from ten (10) barangays in the aforementioned municipalities were surveyed and ten (10) focus group discussions, which were participated by both men and women barangay officials, were held. The results of the study reveal that aside from structural barriers, there are normative frameworks that limit women’s participation in barangay politics. Highlighted are the dominance of patriarchy, persistence of discriminatory social norms, gender stereotypes, beliefs, and attitudes, pervasiveness of the anomalous public and private divide, and intersections of gender, class, and ethnicity that compound the unequal power relations of men and women. Women barangay officials’ pathways to local political participation are mainly through their family connections and current or previous community engagements. However, their political participation is affected by their multiple gender roles within and outside the home. Their greater social and family responsibilities, which are the source of their political influence, are ironically also the reason for their lack of time for political participation. Their increasing number in barangay politics alone is not enough to achieve gender-sensitive political structures and processes since they need to be further gender-sensitized to enable them to use their power and influence to pursue pro-women policies and programs. Continuous capacity-building of women is imperative to contest structural and social limitations to women’s meaningful and transformative political participation.

Keywords: women officials; barangay politics; gender and development