|Political Party:||Liberal Party|
Yasmin Busran-Lao (born March 31, 1962) is a peace and civil society advocate who seeks gender justice for Muslim women by founding the only institutional Muslim women NGO in the country, the Al-Mujadillah Development Foundation (AMDF).
The US government conferred on Yasmin the Ninoy Aquino Public Service Award for her work in uplifting the plight of the marginalized.
Early Life and Education
Yasmin's desire for independence and the sense of fairness was believed to be influenced by her great grandmother, who died when she was eight. Her father, Mama Busran was a judge in Jolo and later, in Cotabato City who often criticized the Marcos administration and opposed the militarization in Mindanao.
As a young lady, she was exposed to the criticisms of non-Muslim community who regard the Muslim as as a threat and sometimes, a person who invokes danger. She was also able to observe the nuances of life as a Muslim woman. Her eldest sister, she says, had an arranged marriage, and got engaged when she was in fifth grade to a guy who was about the same age. The couple had a long engagement, and got married after graduating from high school but she escaped the same fate by being in Manila.
She finished Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the Far Eastern University in Manila and pursued higher education in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. She took up masteral units in Muslim Personal Laws from the King Faisal Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies in Mindanao State University in Marawi City. Busran-Lao also took up masteral units in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic Studies, Asian Center of the University of the Philippines.
1983-1984: As a child specialist, she worked for Creative Parenthood at the Manila Polo Club in Forbes Park, Makati. In the same year, she was a research assistant for the Department of Foreign Languages of the De La Salle University.
1988-1997: She was a faculty member of the Psychology department of the Mindanao State University.
1996-1997: She became director for the MSU-NGO Assistance Center of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City.
1997-1998: For a year, she was social development or Gender Equity Adviser of the local government support program of the Canadian International Development Agency.
1997-2009: She established the Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation in 1997 and became its Executive Director. In 1997, she also co-founded the Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro (Women for Truth and Justice in the Bangsamoro).
1998: Busran-Lao had done assessment missions for World Bank and Oxfam.
2001: She was head executive assistant of the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Afterwards, she headed the Operations secretariat of the INTERACT-Mindanao, a project of the DSWD.
2002: She was a participation consultant for the proposed ARMM social fund for Peace and Development of the World Bank.
2003-2005: She was Muslim Women Sectoral representative of the National Anti-poverty Commission. She was also an editorial board member of the Rights at Home Project of the International Studies on Islam in the Modern World (ISIM).
2006: Busran-Lao was a Gender and Participation consultant for the Health Design Team for ARMM by the USAID-OPHN, Philipines.
2007: She was a consultant on Islam and Gender Training for the Local Governance Support Program-ARMM (LGSPA) organized by the Canadian International Development Agency.
2006: She was a consultant on Muslim Women’s Political Participation in ARMM, Indonesia, and Malaysia for the National Democratic Institute.
2008-2009: She was member of the National Steering Committee of the Local Governance Support Program-ARMM (LGSPA) in the Canadian International Development Agency.
Questions about oppressive practices led to the establishment of the Al-Mujadilah Development Foundation (AMDF) in 1997, shortly after she attended the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women as a representative of the feminist group PILIPINA. Then an intensive research was conducted on the situation of Muslim women-from their domestic roles to reproductive health and poverty, from politics to the impact of armed conflict.
The AMDF was inspired by a Qur'anic verse, Al-Mujadilah (Qur'an verse 58), which, depending on one's source, either means "The Woman who Pleads," "The Woman who Seeketh (Justice)," or "The Woman who Disputeth." The Foundation also works to popularize the Code of Muslim Personal Laws
She is a Psychology graduate at the Far Eastern University. She is married to Candidato Lao with whom she has a daughter named, Amanah. She met her husband during a kandori, a thanksgiving feast given by her family to celebrate her brother's passing the medical board exams and her magna cum laude honors during her college graduation.
Lao is one of the ten Filipina signatories from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao who signed the Win with Women Global Initiative to promote strategies for increasing women's political leadership worldwide through a global action plan.
Afflicted with colon cancer, Yasmin still remains passionate about her purpose and work in assisting Muslim women.
Lao is the only female Muslim senatorial candidate for the May 2010 elections. She is running under the Liberal Party. She also aims for a gender responsive emergency kit for the men and women victims of natural calamity. She filed her certificate of candidacy two hours before the deadline, saying “How can I go to the community of women and talk about women’s political participation when I was given the opportunity and I say no?”
Lao is also for constitutional change that would offer the best option for the people.
Lao said that she will support the RH bill, the magna carta of women, and the anti-discrimination bill that will include other minority groups that are being discriminated against. She also plans to pen a comprehensive national law on peace agenda.
On people centered-governance
Yasmin emphasizes that “what is important is we give opportunities to people to serve the country and not be denied just because she comes from a different identity group or does not have the money, and the clout. “ She said that we cannot afford to perpetuate the same old traditional politics that falls to the rich, the famous. She also believes in new politics that comes from ordinary people that have the capacity and ability to serve this country. She said “It is time for the citizenry to be the spokesperson of their own agenda.”
On women issues
In an interview with Blogwatch.ph, Lao said that she plans to help in lowering the maternal mortality rate in Mindanao where she sees a positive environment. She says the problem is that the mainstream majority of Catholic-Christian communities oppose the reproductive health bill on religious grounds. She conveyed that the RH bill is a question of minor representation of the Muslim community in the house and in the senate. She also said that it is possible to pass the RH bill in a regional legislative assembly of the ARMM.
Lao aims to continue her work on gender equality and women’s rights. If elected to a national position, she will be more enable to further mobilize her efforts on women’s reproductive health, community participation, education and their livelihood.
Lao described to the Bangsa Moro situation as historical injustice, economic marginalization, political subordination, social aspect of being minoritized, the cultural othering, and identity discrimination. According to Lao, Mindanao has a second level of poverty where Muslim dominated provinces are categorized. Lao said that the Bangsa Moro people need a person who can provide the best option for self development. She said that the government should provide an open, broad-based, and peace-centered discussion and exploration of what is best for the Bangsa Moro people. The previous and current administration limit the peace talks to the government and the armed groups whereas the civil society, private organizations, non-government organizations, and civilians participating and having their own peace agendas are considered unofficial and not taken as inputs to peace negotiations. Lao said that she can easily attribute the failure of the Bangsa Mora's memorandum of agreement to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which resulted in the Maguindanao tragedy.
Lao conveyed that the next administration should commit to resolving armed conflict issue which is 40 years down the road because “we cannot allow civilians particularly children and women to be the collateral damage. It has to end.” When elected, she plans to look at the national peace policy and bring a just resolution to the armed conflict between the government and the Moro rebels. She also said that the government should spend on social services instead of war.
On Visiting Forces Agreement
Lao said that the VFA agreement should be revisited to recount if it did good for the country, particularly Mindanao. She perceived the VFA as a tool to strengthen the capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for securing the country. However, she added, in some places like the ARMM, aside from the usual training, actual combat is involved. Lao said that there is little progress to the condition of Mindanao and that the VFA is used for others' personal interest.
With 280 billion pesos a year lost in corruption, Lao said that we should guard it so the utilization of tax will go to the services for people.
On Islamic extremism
Lao said that extremism is not limited to Muslims. Lao upholds the beliefs of the Liberal Party that nobody should be above the law however, Lao added that we should look at the cause of extremism. She also talked about the Human Security Act, which she claimed to be the Anti-Terrorism Act because the Filipinos' understanding of human security is not the violation of human rights and impunity. She said that it is important to provide the environment a legislative and executive environment that make people feel that their rights are respected, their rights are within the law and that they cannot get away with violations and at the same time, the government is involved with over-all human development.
- Truth Force. (accessed on April 2, 2008).
- Moro Women achievers cited in exhibit. Manila Bulletin. March 17, 2008.
- The Liberal Party senatoriables and their advocacies Thepoc.net (Accessed 19 April 2010)
- Yasmin Lao Youtube.com (Accessed 19 April 2010)
- Yasmin Busran-Lao on gender equality, peace, good governance Thepoc.net (Accessed 21 April 2010)