Hisgutanang Klima sa Mindanao: Advancing gender equality and women empowerment

By Marisol Tuso


According to science, women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change. They suffer from pollution-related health problems, lose income when climate-related disasters strike, experience violence in the aftermath of climate-related disasters, feel the effects of soaring prices on survival basics when disasters hit, endure increased workloads when recuperating from climate-related disasters, and shoulder the increased burden of water and fuel collection as the climate changes, among others.

As the world commemorates International Women’s Day and National Women’s Month in the country, I would like to highlight the work of some Climate Reality Leaders contributing to the advancement of gender equality, women empowerment, and gender-responsive climate actions in Mindanao.

Ma. Isobel Ocao, Dapitan City

Isobel is working with the Gender and Development Office under the Director of Gender and Development of Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU). She is also the Adviser of the LGBTQIA+ of the university. 

Isobel works at the university’s extension program, delivering capacity development services to women on indoor air quality at the barangay level.

Mark Devon Maitim, Tagum City

Mark is a student-leader from the Mindanao State University- General Santos City Campus, taking up Bachelor’s in Secondary Education, major in Mathematics. He is currently the Co-Chairperson of the UNICEF Young People Action Team for Asia-Pacific Region and a member of the International Conference on Population and Development Asia Pacific Regional Youth Group. 

Mark recently participated in the launching of the Gender Net Youth Camp of the United Nations, which aims to fight gender violence.

He is also part of the Youth Speaks Podcast for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), which was launched recently in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by Amaze.org, a  platform that harnesses the power of digital media to provide young adolescents around the globe with medically accurate, age-appropriate, affirming, and honest sex education they can access directly online.

Mark and the group are in the process of completing the modules for podcast stories and will invite women and leaders to discuss the relevance of SRHR, climate change issues, labor, governance, and empowering women for leadership. 

Mark also supports the empowering of young women in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) by working with the group Bai for Bangsa on good governance.

Frances Camille Rivera, Cagayan de Oro City

Camille is the Co-Founder of the Oceanus Conservation. She is also the Community Engagement Officer of the Marine Conservation Philippines.

Camille was recently named as among the 16 Women Restoring the Earth of the Global Landscape Forum (GLF), honoring her work on protecting and replanting mangroves for food security, ocean conservation, typhoon protection, and fighting climate change in Bais, Negros Oriental.

My women empowerment story

As I share the work that our Climate Reality Leaders are currently doing to ensure gender-responsive climate actions in the region, I am also happy to look back at the work that I did as the former Institution and Gender Officer of the Fisheries, Coastal Resources, and Livelihood (FishCORAL) Project of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The FishCORAL project, which was implemented by the Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) in the Caraga region, empowered women in the coastal villages.

Until now, women who participated in the program are able to provide for their family’s basic needs and access capital for their livelihood through the Community Savings Mobilization Club. 

Through the program’s capacity building and community empowerment initiatives, fishers (mostly women) in targeted communities were able to save an accumulated sum of PhP22 Million in three (3) years. It afforded them to support the needs of their children for tuition fees, food, small family projects, and livelihood.



Marisol is the Mindanao Coordinator of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. She has been working in the development sector for 16 years. She is a specialist in training, institution and community development, information, education, and communication (IEC), and gender and social inclusion. Aside from being a broadcast journalist since 1997,  she also served as the Project Coordinator of the Global Fund for Malaria Component Project for 10 years and as Training and IEC Specialist of the Philippine Cold Chain Project. 


Hisgutanang Klima or “Climate Discussions” is a space that aims to amplify the climate stories and initiatives of the more than 100 Pinoy Climate Reality Leaders in Mindanao.

It is one of the monthly columns launched by The Climate Reality Project Philippines to elevate the climate discourse and strengthen climate action across all regions in the Philippines.