“In the Bohol Island UNESCO Global Geopark, women lead and women rock!” said Provincial Administrator Asteria Caberte during her keynote message in the forum, delivering a geology-related pun for the attendees.

As Bohol drumbeats for the upcoming International Geodiversity Day on Oct. 6, women take center stage in a gender development forum highlighting their roles in Geopark management.

Held on Oct. 4 at the Bohol Bee Farm in Dauis, this forum is the first of the three activities leading up to International Geodiversity Day.

Organized by the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines (UNACOM), in partnership with the provincial government of Bohol and the Center for Neighbourhood Studies (CENS), it was attended by various stakeholders from PGBh departments, national government agencies, LGUs, women-focused people’s organizations, female-led MSMEs, and the academe.

The forum underscores the community contribution of women and the opportunities they can acquire from the Geopark designation, ranging from creating geoproducts to sustainable environmental management according to the activity’s rationale discussed by Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office’s (BPEMO) Jovencia Ganub and UNACOM’s Lindsay Barrientos.

“One of UNESCO’s major thrusts is to ensure that gender equality, and women and young girls empowerment are integral to any initiatives that involve the promotion of UNESCO-designated sites, and even the five sectors that we have: education, culture, science, social and human sciences, and communication and information,” Barrientos said.

Caberte, who represented Gov. Aris Aumentado in the activity, delivered a keynote message on the provincial government’s commitment to the Geopark advocacy by increasing the budget for next year in geosite management, geoproduct promotion, and geotourism for the province to fully reap the economic benefits of being a UNESCO-designated Global Geopark.

Dr. Anne Mariquit Oppus, provincial human resource management and development officer, talked about the role of women in communities and gender sensitivity while entrepreneur Vicky Wallace Sandidge of Bohol Bee Farm discussed the marketing potential of geoproducts as the province opens to more tourists visiting due to the designation.

An open forum followed for attendees to share their reactions or insights they have learned to the topics discussed at hand.

The International Geodiversity Day is a worldwide celebration which started in 2021, highlighting the significance of geology in different facets of society, such as culture, environment, economy, and education.

With this year’s theme being “Geodiversity is for Everyone,” the forum hopes to empower women and other historically marginalized sectors to have a role in helping maintain Bohol’s UNESCO designation by emboldening them to be active stakeholders. (PIMO/GMC)