The Philippines


Quick facts

  • 104 million people
  • 8.3% living on less than USD $1.90 / day
  • 16.9% of women have experienced intimate partner violence

Despite its classification as a middle-income country, one-fifth of the population still live below the national poverty line. The country also has persistently high levels of inequality, and in regions such as Mindanao armed conflict threatens stability and development.

It’s also extremely vulnerable to natural disasters – such as Typhoon Haiyan – which devastated the Philippines with high speed winds and a tsunami-like storm surge on 8 November 2013.

Oxfam Australia’s programs in the Philippines focus primarily on addressing economic inequality and promoting sustainable peace.

Key areas of work

Gender Justice and Resilience

One story of change

Since the Marawi Conflict broke out and since losing her husband to a fatal road crash, Rakima Edris from Marawi City has been selling women’s pajamas, clothes, and make-up to provide for her three children. Photo: May Anne Caduyac, IDE

Edris used to be a fruit and fish vendor in Banggolo, Marawi City, while her husband worked as a construction worker in the area. However, since the crisis broke out and since losing her husband to a fatal road crash, she has had to become both a mother and father to her three children.

Culturally, Muslim communities follow a distinct set of practices when it comes to finances. Islamic banking adheres to Sharia Doctrine which prohibits charging and earning interests from savings and employs a risk-sharing principle. Due to this, a vast majority of people living in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) do not use banks. Muslim communities instead practice lugi; that is keeping their savings hidden in a part of their house. Since the IAFFORD platform was recognised as a Sharia compliant financial product, it has been increasingly used as a platform to financial inclusion of Bangsamoro communities.

Now, Edris has started a small retail business by selling women’s clothing and items such as pajamas, shirts, and make-up. She uses a portion of her profit to buy products to sell and another portion to her personal savings and the repayment of debt. Edris has lost all her savings in the wake of the crisis and when her husband was hospitalized because of the road crash, she was left with no choice but to borrow money from other people.

“I am more inspired now to save money because I know that my savings are secured. Instead of putting my money under my pillow, I can deposit it in my IAFFORD Card and I will be able to sleep more soundly,” she said. The sentiments of Edris are just a few of the thousands of women and mothers whose lives have been drastically changed because of the crisis. “What happened to us served as a difficult lesson. We lost everything there and nothing of value remained. I lost my husband too. But now, I have the means to stand up again,” Edris said.

Key projects

Women’s Empowerment for Leadership in Development and Peace in the Bangsamoro

This three year project (2017-2020) is supported by the Australian Government as part of the Australian Partnerships for Peace Program. It aims to support women leaders from diverse social groups to engage in the Bangsamoro Peace Process in central Mindanao. The peace process is to address and resolve the long-standing conflict. Oxfam Australia through implementing partners are working with marginalised groups, including women, to increase their participation in the peace process and ensure greater representation.

Inclusive and Affordable Financial Services in the Philippines (I-AFFORD)

This 18 month (2017-2018) Australian aid initiative implemented by Oxfam Australia on behalf of the Australian Government’s Innovation X-Change program which aims to address the lack of accessible and secure financial services for Filipinos living in poverty. We work with communities who are unable to take advantage of social protection and financial programs like savings, loans and micro-insurance. Through Oxfam’s Australia’s support, Oxfam in the Philippines’ innovative digital finance infrastructure platform (I AFFORD) allows poor women and men to save money and transfer cash safely. This allows communities to better prepare for and recover from disasters.

australian aid blue and red



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