DSWD Gender and Development (GAD) Programs

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the Philippines plays a pivotal role in addressing social inequalities and promoting equality through its Gender and Development (GAD) Program. This initiative is crucial for fostering a more inclusive society where every Filipino has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of gender.

GAD Program
Credits: DSWD Field Office MIMAROPA / Facebook

What is DSWD Gender and Development?

The DSWD’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment is articulated through its GAD Agenda 2020-2025. This strategic document, influenced by the Magna Carta of Women and other relevant laws, aims to integrate gender perspectives across the department’s operations, addressing issues of resiliency, security, peace, and the impacts of migration, conflict, disasters, and climate change.

Legal Basis

The legal foundation of the GAD Program is rooted in the Magna Carta of Women, which mandates gender mainstreaming as a strategy for promoting equality and women’s empowerment across all government sectors. This legal framework ensures that such considerations are integral to the planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies, programs, and projects.


The Program offers numerous benefits aimed at promoting equality:

  • It addresses biases, stereotypes, and unequal power dynamics.
  • It enhances access to education, economic opportunities, and support for abuse victims.
  • It fosters a society that values diversity and respects the rights of marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.
  • It promotes healthy family dynamics and mutual respect within households.
  • It encourages an inclusive society where everyone can realize their full potential with dignity.

Program Components

The DSWD program encompasses various program components, but their specific composition can vary depending on the focus area and target population. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key aspects:

Mainstreaming Components:

  • Policy and Planning: Integrating gender considerations into policies, plans, and budgets across all DSWD programs and initiatives.
  • Capacity Building: Training and equipping DSWD personnel with the knowledge and skills to implement gender-responsive programs and services.
  • Data and Research: Collecting and analyzing gender-disaggregated data to inform program design, implementation, and monitoring.
  • Advocacy and Networking: Collaborating with other government agencies, civil society organizations, and the private sector to promote equality.

Direct Service Components:

  • Economic Empowerment: Programs that provide women with access to credit, training, and other resources to start or grow businesses, such as the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
  • Education: Programs that support girls’ access to education and completion, such as the Girls’ Scholarship Program.
  • Health: Programs that improve the health of women and girls by providing access to reproductive health care, nutrition services, and other essential services.
  • Violence Against Women (VAW): Programs that prevent and respond to violence against women, including hotlines, shelters, and legal assistance.
  • Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution: Programs that empower women to participate in peacebuilding and conflict resolution processes.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Management: Programs that ensure women’s participation and leadership in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.

Eligibility / Qualifications

Eligibility for the Program extends to low-income individuals or those marginalized due to discrimination. 

  • This includes women, transgender individuals, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities.


Citizenship: You must be a Filipino citizen to participate in most DSWD programs.

Target population: Some programs are designed for specific groups, such as women entrepreneurs, girls from poor families, or victims of violence. Make sure you meet the age, gender, and other criteria defined for the program you’re interested in.

Financial need: Many DSWD programs are targeted towards individuals and families facing financial hardship. You may need to submit documents proving your income and economic status.

Residency: Some programs may require you to reside in a specific region or community.

Character requirements: Good moral character and no criminal record are often required for participation.

Additional requirements: Specific programs may have additional requirements, such as:

  • Attending mandatory training sessions
  • Forming a group or cooperative
  • Submitting a project proposal
  • Partnering with a local government unit or non-government organization

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Apply

  • Check for a Local DSWD Field Office: Your first step is to identify if your community has a DSWD Field Office.
  • Submit Your Application: Ensure your application includes all necessary documentation.
  • Participate in Preliminary Activities: You may need to attend seminars or workshops on gender and development as part of the application process.
  • Wait for Evaluation: The DSWD will review your application to determine eligibility.

Success Stories / Recent Updates

Policy Forum on Advancing Gender and Development Initiatives

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) recently organized a policy forum in Manila titled “Advancing Gender and Development Initiatives: Institutionalizing the Magna Carta for Barangay Health and Nutrition Workers and the Creation of Plantilla Positions for Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Desk Officers.” 

The forum, led by the NAPC Women Sectoral Council (WSC) and the Policy and Planning Service, aimed to address the challenges faced by women in society. During the discussions, WSC Sectoral Representative Aurora Chavez-de Guzman highlighted the crucial role of VAWC desk officers and health workers in providing essential services to the underprivileged, particularly in light of the increased cases of abuse against women and children during the ongoing pandemic.

GAD Mapping Identifies Challenges Faced by 4Ps Beneficiaries in Pangasinan

In a Gender and Development Mapping led by the 4Ps Regional Program Management Office in Binmaley, Pangasinan, several issues affecting the compliance of program beneficiaries were identified. These include bullying, single parenthood, early pregnancy, addiction, and abuse. The GAD mapping involved selected 4Ps Parent Leaders and representatives from various agencies, such as the Philippine National Police, Department of Education, Commission on Population and Development, Rural Health Unit, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, and the Local Government Unit of Binmaley, Pangasinan. The participants believe that this activity will strengthen strategies to help beneficiaries comply with program conditions and improve their livelihoods.

Supporting the importance of VAWC desk officers and health workers as frontline service providers for the underprivileged, WSC Sectoral Representative Aurora Chavez-de Guzman emphasized the rising cases of abuse against women and children during the pandemic. Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Emmeline Villar, as the Chairperson of the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC), expressed her support and highlighted the department’s mandate to protect the rights and welfare of women.

DSWD Sets Up Anti-VAWC Desks and Declares Purple Wednesday in Support of Women’s Month

In a show of support for equality and in celebration of National Women’s Month, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has established anti-Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) desks in Robinson’s Novaliches and Ever Gotesco, Commonwealth, both located in Quezon City. From March 13 to 24, 2023, social workers will be available at these desks to provide victims with vital information on anti-VAWC laws and interventions, should they choose to report their experiences. This initiative aims to raise awareness and provide support to those affected by VAWC.

Video: Elizabeth Sol – Gender and Development Advocate

Take a look at the story of Elizabeth Sol, a single mother of six (6) six children who decided to become a DSWD Gender and Development advocate in their small town in Negros Oriental to help educate the people of women’s rights and empower abused women to continue learning and to contribute to the society through livelihood and health programs targeting families. Elizabeth, a domestic violence victim herself, has come a long way leading women in the community to become not only empowered but productive members of society through initiatives spearheaded by the DSWD and their LGU.



DSWD’s GAD Program represents a comprehensive approach to achieving equality and empowering marginalized genders in the Philippines. Through legal backing, targeted benefits, and a clear application process, it paves the way for a more inclusive society. Everyone, regardless of gender, is encouraged to support and participate in its initiatives, contributing to a collective effort towards a balanced and equitable community.

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