From where I stand: “That is what we all want: a peaceful life.”

Narimbai Dimao, 48, is a mother and entrepreneur from Barangay Bulalo in the Bangsamoro area of the southern Philippines. She is a leader and active participant of UN Women’s programme to prevent violent extremism through women’s economic empowerment.


Photo: UN Women/Joser Dumbrique
Narimbai Dimao. Photo: UN Women/Joser Dumbrique

When I was a kid, I experienced a lot due to conflict. It was hard for me to move around to different places with my parents. We had to leave many of our belongings behind and when we moved, we had to start again, over and over. I was always afraid of my surroundings, and I could not study well. Even if I only heard cars running, I got scared and thought those were soldiers. Sometimes I have dreams about these times.

For these reasons, I wanted a permanent place to live for my children and a peaceful life where there is no conflict.

I am a businesswoman. I sell different things that are available in the area, such as charcoal and used bottles. I also sell banana chips. Some of our bananas become rotten too quickly and go to waste, so I tried to find a way to sell them.

I participated in leadership and entrepreneurship trainings provided by TMI and UN Women. These trainings were very helpful because they gave me an opportunity to sell my products and to learn about peaceful living. Here, I learned that if a woman has her own business, she is the boss. I am now the boss in my business. I want more trainings like this for women, for us to become competitive women of the world, not just in the Philippines.

It is important to respect each other. Respect me and I will respect you. In the community, I am willing to share these ideas of peaceful living and what I have learned regarding my business.

As a leader, I always teach other people that a leader must be a good follower. I should be the first to follow my own policies. In terms of peace, a compromise is a must for a peaceful community. If you see something that you do not like, don't be rash to your neighbours. If they throw rocks at you, throw chocolates back at them.

Many women think that we are only women and our only role is to bear children. Many women in the community did not know what they could do. Now, they are asking me to train them. And I said ‘yes’. I will train them on how contribute to a peaceful community and how to support their family by making simple products. Because that is what we all want: a peaceful life.”

SDG 5: Gender equality SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Dimao is a leader and entrepreneur from the Philippines who received skills training to start her own sewing business through the Empowered Women, Peaceful Communities programme, funded by the Government of Japan, run by UN Women and implemented by The Moropreneur Inc. (TMI) in five provinces. She works in her village to mentor younger women to run small businesses and be advocates of peace in their community.