Office on Women – Part 1

As the name connotes, the CFC (Couples For Christ) Office on Women is an office within CFC, and not a ministry. It is an office concerning itself with “women's issues as they pertain to the internal life of CFC women in the community.” It aims to strengthen the pastoral resource by enhancing the partnership-in-mission of CFC men and women, as well as strengthening the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children in the community.

The Office is also the highest level of intercessory group (conducting intercessory prayer groups, recollections, retreats) in the community. It serves to integrate the different Social Ministries of CFC by organizing women's events, regular fellowship of its members, and general quarterly meetings of top women leaders.

Who leads?

A Central Committee, composed of the wives of CFC Council members plus the top women leaders of HOLD (Handmaids of the Lord), SFC (women) and certain Social Ministries, runs the Office.

The CFC Council appoints a woman to chair the Central Committee. The Chair's term of office is one year and is subject to yearly re-appointment. She is assisted by a Working Group composed of three or four women appointed by her.

The Office on Women is based in Manila but it has local counterparts in each area of the country. Each local area has its own Area Office on Women headed by a woman appointed as Office Head by the Area Council. The Office Head is assisted by three or four women appointed by her. Like the Chair, the Office Head's term of office is one year and is subject to yearly re-appointment.

The Thrill

The Office on Women: 1) thinks of ways to promote the welfare of women in CFC, 2) brings strategic women together, 3) organizes forums for various ministries for women to encourage all CFC women to be involved in some way, 4) looks into complaints or cases brought to it for resolution, 5) arranges special inter-ministry activities, 6) proposes to the CFC Council, 7) activities and services women can do, 8) handles assignments given by the CFC Council

Though the Office works closely with women, it is not an “umbrella” for ministries involving women, nor is it an overseer or auditor of the ministries. As such, the Office does not intend to duplicate the functions of the CFC ministries involving women. The Office on Women serves as a vehicle in allowing the CFC women to appreciate not only herself, but also her partner and their task together as man and woman.

Getting Busy

Gerry Padilla says that the goal is to go around the provinces and set up the Office on Women in every area. Once established, the Office in a particular province will decide what activities the women can have in their area. “For instance,” Gerry relates, “the biggest problem we have now is garbage. Though not as strongly felt in the provinces as compared to Metro Manila, it will eventually be felt there. We are already learning about composting, and some women are very good at it! Thus, we teach proper waste disposal. Since we are into environmental concerns as well, we take time to teach our children tree planting, and planting vegetables in one's garden. It is also a means of livelihood to augment a family's income.”

Aside from the Women's War on Waste (WWOW), the Office organizes a Ladies Luncheon Meeting every month. Gerry explained that this is a forum for networking, not necessarily for CFC women, but for non-CFC members as well who are in politics/government, civic/cultural affairs. “I believe we also have to see ourselves as part of a larger community,” she said.

Let’s Buy Filipino! Buy GK!

Yes, buy God's Kraft by Gawad Kalinga (CFC's community development program supported by the ANCOP Foundation)! God's Kraft products are made by Gawad Kalinga beneficiaries in the Philippines. All products speak of beauty and hope, hence the Office on Women was quick on its toes when an opportunity came to share this livelihood to the people of Smokey Mountain, an open dumpsite in Tondo, Manila.

Rev. Fr. Ben Beltran, Smokey Mountain Parish Priest, approached CFC and the organization readily responded by setting up a non-profit organization supporting sustainable environmental programs. The Foundation for the Fullness and Integrity of Creation (FFIC) is led by Gerry Padilla, Bernie Cuevas (Vice-President and project Consultant) and Ruby Borja (Chief Financial Officer). A partnership between FFIC and the Sambayan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SMP-MPC) was forged, leading to programs for community development.

One of the things that keeps the Office on Women and the people at Smokey Mountain very busy is the production of bags out of recycled paper. The Office, thru FFIC, offers skills training, quality control, marketing and distribution. The bags, carrying the brand name GK, turned out to be a big hit!

Something for the House help too!

The Office on Women organized Kasambahay, a project for household help, gardeners, drivers and everyone else who assist in the home. This project addresses the needs of both helper and employer. For the helpers or kasambahay, the project will work towards: (1) recognition of their dignity and worth as persons created and loved by God; (2) appreciation of the dignity of labor through workshops that will enhance their skills and talents; (3) development of their confidence and self-esteem through the teachings on character and personality development and make-over workshops.

The employer plays a vital role in this relationship too! Thus, the Kasambahay project will help the employers to: (1) create an awareness and appreciation of our kasambahay, (2) restore the respect and dignity of the kasambahay as a son or daughter of God who does not deserve to be cursed or yelled at; (3) express genuine concern for the health and well-being of the kasambahay by providing them with health benefits and improving their living conditions; (4) create a center of love and kindness in the family by teaching the kids to love and honor the kasambahay and treat them as part of the family.

This project then, would greatly help in improving the quality of life of the household help and employers.

Continue to Part 2

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