Alicia Balbin, wife of Mayor Balbin [center] leads the distribution of women’s undergarments and other needs in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

COMPOSTELA VALLEY PROVINCE — The regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development recently distributed undergarments and other needs to more than 500 women who were affected by typhoon Pablo in the municipalities of New Bataan, Compostela and Monkayo.

In New Bataan, the distribution was done in the grandstand near the women-friendly space where more than 80 women converged to get their share of the goods.

Marlith Balbin, women-friendly space facilitator, said the women who received the goods were internally-displaced persons temporarily living in evacuation centers or relocation sites.

The women-friendly space is a concept of international relief agencies implemented in the aftermath of disasters to provide a venue where women can be helped with their special needs, like breastfeeding their children, providing women with the necessary knowledge on proper nutrition and human trafficking, and even providing them inputs on livelihood.

“Kung magsession mi, diri namo sila tapokon. Kanang maghatag mi og health sessions, stress debriefing, ug uban pa (During sessions, we gather the women inside the women-friendly space. Activities like health sessions, stress debriefing, etc. are also conducted here),” Balbin said.

The space also allows the direct responders to provide immediate assistance especially in cases of violence against women.

Nolibelyn Macagdal, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) project officer who is currently detailed at DSWD Social Technology Bureau, said the setting up of women-friendly spaces in evacuation camps is necessary because women are vulnerable to abuse.

Macagdal said that based on the collated report of her organization, there have been 71 cases of violence against women monitored in the three municipalities in the province since the typhoon landed on December 4. These cases have already been looked into and are being monitored especially by the TS Pablo Protection Cluster led by DSWD. DSWD