The 2012/2013 (UNDP, 2015) Philippine Human Development Report  shows 9 out of 10 provinces with the lowest Human Development Index levels are in Mindanao.Women in Mindanao (Leslie Dwyer) are vulnerable to violence and human rights abuses, economic distress and marginalization, physical and mental health problems, political powerlessness, and deep-rooted social uncertainty.

Women face labor burdens when their male kin are unable to work at their previous occupations. In 2000, males (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2005) outnumbered females in Mindanao with a sex ratio of 103 males for every 100 females. Males dominated in all age groups except in the age groups 15-19 years and 70 years and above. More than half (55.87%) of the overseas workers in Mindanao are females. The median age of overseas workers in Mindanao was 28 years. This means that half of them were below 28 years of age. Males had a median age of 31 years, while females had 25 years. Literacy rate for females (86.5%) was slightly higher than for males (86.4%). In terms of disability, (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2002) the proportion for males was higher than females (52 percent vs. 48 percent) except for those who had low vision in which the females constituted about 52 percent. The registered live births for 2012 are 47.9% while registered deaths are 42.4%.

In terms of recent stats for Mindanao, (Philippine Statistics Authority, 2016)there are 50.4% male population while 49.6% are females. 77% females are widowed. 63.3% are divorced or separated. The basic literacy rate for Population 10 years old and over for females are 95.6% while for females above 15-24 is 97.8%. In terms of stats for the country, Philippines continue to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Asia (National Statistical Coordination Board Resolution, 2010) with 95–163 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Key causes include the high fertility rate, low average age of first delivery, narrow pregnancy spacing, poor nutritional status of mothers, and poor access to reproductive and basic health services. Moreover, one in twenty five women (Women, 2014) age 15-49 who have ever had sex ever experienced forced first sexual intercourse. One in five women aged 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15; 14.4 percent of married women have experienced physical abuse from their husbands; and more than one-third (37%) of separated or widowed women have experienced physical violence, implying that domestic violence could be the reason for separation or annulment. Overall, 4 percent of women who have ever been pregnant have ever experienced physical violence during pregnancy. Emotional and other forms of non-personal violence are the most common types of spousal violence (23% of ever-married women). One in seven ever-married women experienced physical violence by their husbands while 8 percent experienced sexual violence by their husbands. One in three women who experienced physical/sexual violence reported having physical injuries such as cuts, bruises or aches. More than 10 percent reported to have suffered eye injuries, sprains, dislocations or burns, and about the same proportion reported that they attempted to commit suicide.

Violence against women is a pervasive social problem within Mindanao. I hope the civil sector of Mindanao, support the gender-responsive reform of justice and security institutions, universal access to justice, the introduction or implementation of laws against violence against women, and provision of public services that fully meet women’s needs.