Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Joseline Niwane, Philippine ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) leader, addresses the attendees of virtual meeting of the 15th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum last September 21.

Leading this year’s 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) GO-NGO Forum on September 21, the Philippines, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), enjoined delegates and partners in strengthening families as basic units providing essential support to all citizens.

Following the theme, “Strengthening Family Resilience and Solidarity: Braving the Adversity and Adapting to the New Normal,” the 15th ASEAN GO-NGO Forum highlighted the important roles of families as well as recommendations on how the ASEAN can support them to become resilient and active partners in nation and regional community building. The ASEAN GO-NGO Forum is part of the three-day virtual meeting of the 16th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and Related Meetings hosted by the Philippines this year.

In her opening remarks, PH SOMSWD Leader and DSWD Assistant Secretary Joseline Niwane underscored the importance of family resilience amidst the current pandemic.

With the adverse effects brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic, our children, women, and elders, among other vulnerable groups of our society in the region, bear the brunt of this crisis,” she said.

Assistant Secretary Niwane also added that it is “of significance that the conditions of the family are looked into – especially with how they play a central role on the coping mechanisms of our people. As deeply rooted in our culture and traditions to sustain our close family ties, the sudden shift in our lifestyles may have contributed to changes in the present family dynamics, affecting individuals’ well-being, as further amplified by the fear and anxiety due to today’s situation,”.

Meanwhile, Alternate Chair of the National Committee on the Filipino Family (NCFF) and DSWD Undersecretary Luzviminda Ilagan shared the Philippine experiences particularly on good practices and mechanisms for the promotion and protection of Filipino families. Undersecretary Ilagan also shared areas for cooperation in the national and regional levels which can reinforce policies and programs to keep families strong and resilient.

Among the areas for cooperation that she mentioned were providing new knowledge and skills training for social workers and development workers working with families; mapping and implementing programs and services  to protect families, improve their well-being, and promote their rights collectively and individually; opening avenues for  exchange of information and  good practices; and allocating budgetary items  for the implementation of programs and services for the family, nationally or locally.

Through the forum, DSWD hopes that more opportunities for sustained partnerships between public and private sectors in the ASEAN region will transpire, especially in the formulation of more responsive, more inclusive, and sustainable social protection systems that will safeguard all families, particularly the poor and vulnerable sectors of society. Anchored on cohesiveness, responsiveness and cooperation, it is with anticipation that recommendations from the forum will be realized and put into positive actions.  ###