For over forty years now, localized armed conflict has featured in some parts of the Philippines. In particular, the conflict between the communist guerillas of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the government security forces continues to claim a number of lives in the countryside.
Conflict poses a multilayered challenge to those living in the areas affected by it. Basic services are interrupted as heightened security hampers mobility. Desiring safety, people opt to remain indoors until the threat has passed. Households suffer as it is deemed unsafe to go out to till farms or to fetch food, water, and other essential items. Schools shut down or become the site for local governance to gather evacuees fleeing from violence and crossfire. In particular, for women who are traditionally expected to keep the social fabric of family and community together, the unwelcome descent of conflict into their communities renders critical their role to attend to the care and nurturance of family and community members. Efforts to support women become more essential when they are caught in conflict situations.
Gender roles in family interactions have traditionally been defined by the division of productive and reproductive labor among family members. Beginning at a young age, girls are socialized for motherhood roles: to care for the young, the sick, and the elderly; to manage the home; to foster social relations, emotional growth, and psychological well-being of family members; to educate and nurse; and, when necessary, to earn from the home to augment family income.