Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the first women negotiator

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the bold peace activist and the fist first female negotiator to sign a final peace accord with a rebel group, has got the distinction to get mentioned among other women in the 20 Years of Women, Peace, and Power of UN Women on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325.

It was in 2014 that she made history when she became the first woman chief negotiator in the world to sign a final peace accord with the rebel group – Moro Islamic Liberation Front- in the Philippines. The signing of the peace accord is considered a landmark moment for women in the Philippines.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer mentioned that it was this landmark moment that gave her the strength to work for women. And this gave her the power to deal with the rebel groups, she said. This peace activist from the Philippines says that authoritarianism has returned in recent times. Moreover, women’s rights and peace agenda are pushed down, she feels.

She jumped into active politics when studying at the university in late 1970s. It was a time when the country was under martial law imposed by Ferdinand Marcos’s government. She said that she even worked underground after her graduation. Marcos was forced to leave the country in 1986 after the mass agitation. The agitation was known as the People Power Revolution. After the rebellious movement, she said that she focused on democratic and peaceful ways for the upliftment of the people, especially women. For her luck, all the peace movements after the revolution were led by women.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer remembers that it was her association with peace keeping movements that had led the country’s President Simeon Bengino Aquino to ask her join the Government’s peace panel in 2010. The aim was to negotiate and sign a peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front, who were an armed group in Mindanao. They were fighting for an autonomous region of the Moro people. Four years later, the peace deal was signed and she was a signatory, making her the first female negotiator to sign a final peace accord with a rebel group.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer says that she could go ahead with all her activities as she had a supportive family. She also points out that many women are not lucky as she is in getting family support.

She now teaches political science at the University of the Philippines.




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