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Institute of Women’s Studies (IWS)

The Institute of Women’s Studies (IWS) is an education and training institution primarily devoted to the empowerment of women.  It is the positive response to the initiatives of St. Scholastica’s College to develop its women’s studies program. With the empowerment of women as its focal point, IWS endeavors to equip women with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and resources needed to enable them advocate for gender equity.


The Beginnings

The St. Scholastica’s College adopted a social orientation for its education mission in the seventies, a period that saw the birth of the women’s movement in the Philippines. In 1985, celebrating its 10th year of promoting education for social transformation, the school initiated a Women’s Studies program. Women, active in the women’s movement, came together to work out the objectives and syllabus of an Introductory Course on Women’s Studies. The enthusiastic response, course generated led to its incorporation in the College’s General Education program for the tertiary level — the course was made a requirement for graduation. The following year, the College obtained a permit to offer a Cognate Course on Women’s Studies. It established the Institute of Women’s Studies as an affiliate unit of the college in 1988.

Philosophy, Vision, Mission


A just and free society where:

• Patriarchal values have been transcended and oppressive structures overcome:

• Women and men have equal rights and status;

• People participate and determine their own development;

• Everyone respects and protects the environment; and

• Opportunities for growth are accessible to all.

In this context, people’s aspiration for the full flowering of the human spirit and creativity can be actualized.


As an educational and training institution, IWS commits itself to promote alternative education that is gender fair, ecologically concerned, process-oriented, participant-centered and liberating.

IWS shall engage educational institutions and development organizations towards the empowerment of women and social transformation.


Institute of Women’s Studies
931 Estrada Street, Malate

1004 Manila, Philippines
(632) 522-3551 / 
Tele Fax (632) 523-0693
E-mail: iwsmnl@yahoo.com /iws@ssc.edu.ph

Education & Training Program

Trainers’ Training Course.  A capability building course designed for women leaders and staff of non-government and people’s organizations which underscores the need for a gender perspective not only in the women, but also in their organizations and in advocacy work as a whole. It covers pedagogical and facilitative skills needed to be able to conduct alternative education for women. 

InterCultural Course on Women and Society. A two-month course which gathers women from Asia, Pacific and Africa who share experiences and ideas on issues that affect women’s situation and participation in community life. Like the Trainers’ Training, the course includes exposure visits to women’s communities and groups, action-research presentations, and intensive curricular studies on subjects like Feminist Theories, Gender and Development, Women and Religion, Feminist Research, and Feminist Processes in Education.

Short-term courses are also offered, including:

Basic Women’s Orientation (3 day).  The Basic Women’s Orientation, is a three day course that introduces gender as a social construct and a way to define unequal power relations between men and women. It clarifies the concepts of sex and gender, enabling participants to reflect on how these two concepts became interchangeable and synonymous to them. It explores how gender is socially constructed from birth, through attires, toys and activities that have been exclusive to girls and boys. It also goes through the three major institutions of socialization — Religion, Mass Media, and the Educational System. It culminates with an analysis of the effects of socialized gender inequality in private and public life as well.

Women as Leaders.   The Women as Leaders Training is a 5 day course that focuses on the current issues of women, gender and socialization, and women’s alternatives.  It  discusses current leadership styles and crises and at the same time gives special attention to the summary of leadership theories, consequently its effect on women and then defines feminist values in leadership, and explores how it can be translated into concrete and specific measures for women’s empowerment inside organizations/companies

Women and Ecology (5 days). The Women and Ecology Training is a five day course that tackles the basic understanding of the women’s situation and ecological crisis in the Philippine context. It aims to make women conscious of their place in the ecological system and incorporate a gender perspective with concern for the environment at the personal and professional/institutional level. It explores alternative lifestyle that is gender sensitive, sustainable and ecologically sound. The training also includes hands-on farming and composting and where time is available, visits to nearby organic farms. 

Women’s Spirituality Retreat Seminar (3 day retreat seminar). The Women’s Spirituality Retreat Seminar is the Institute’s contribution to efforts toward providing care for the caregivers.  It aims to gather women from different schools, grassroots women’s organization, religious congregations, and non-government organizations that hardly have the time to rest and reflect.  The retreat seminar has two themes:  Ecofeminist Spirituality that explore the teachings of Creation Centered Spirituality as well as that of Feminist Spirituality and how it contributes to enhancing women’s spirituality, creativity and artistic expression in its activities and exercises. 

Gender Fair Education (5 days). The Gender Fair Education is a five day course that seeks to provide a venue for educators and school administrators to reflect on their experiences, individually and collectively, for a deeper understanding of their own experiences and situations as women and men belonging to learning institutions (schools) where they help shape the lives of the younger generation. It also seeks to provide a venue for sharing strategies towards mainstreaming the gender perspective within the classrooms and schools, and practicing gender fairness in their respective spheres of work.

Gender Studies for Men (3 days) .  The GSM training is a three day course that aims to develop competent and capable men  to effectively integrate gender consciousness in their respective communities and setting. The participants are expected to understand that gender inequality does not benefit anyone — least of all themselves, and leads only to mistrust, insecurity and disharmony within the family and society.

At the end of the course, the participants are also expected to show personal commitment to gender equality. They are expected to challenge patriarchy by starting a process of change within their personal relations, domestic lives and sexuality. The “empowered man” that the Institute hopes to motivate through a GSM training has a more flexible approach to relationships, work and power. He is strong but tender, and respectful of the needs of women as well as men.

Materials Development & Publications

The Materials Development and Publications Program, in general, facilitates, supports and equips in-house programs and partners in their education work.  It maintains a library that has a wide collection of print and non-print materials on women and gender studies particularly in the area of religion, ecology and history.

Women & Ecology Wholeness Farm Mendez Cavite

In 1997 the Institute undertook to rehabilitate and develop a 1.2 hectare fruit and coffee orchard in Mendez, Cavite, 70km south of Manila, that has been left idle for 20 years.  The farm now serves as a “laboratory” for illustrating the principles imparted in the training and demonstrating a possible alternative lifestyle that is environment-friendly and sustainable.Other highlights of the farm include a mushroom house and butterfly sanctuary.

The Women and Ecology Wholeness Farm, or Ecofarm demonstrates an alternative lifestyle that is environment friendly, junk-free and sustainable.  It practices organic, bio-diverse farming, and biogas based waste management.

There are two (2) seminar-houses that can accommodate 50 people and includes a secretariat room, a spacious conference/plenary hall, a kitchen and refectory.  Hermitage rooms for those seeking to work or reflect in silence.  There is also a Zen sitting room and prayer/meditation lofts. 

Farming is organic, with the use of compost derived from the farm’s own waste, as well as those of nearby households which have been enrolled into the cause of a sustainable, environment-friendly waste management.

Course Offerings

The course on Women and Ecology aims to make women aware of their place in the ecological system, to awaken in them concern for the environment, and to demonstrate an alternative sustainable lifestyle.  Because the course is modular in format, duration can be adjusted from five to 21 days.

The course consists of lectures, exposure program, workshops, women celebrations, health exercises, and actual farmwork – composting, cultivating and planting.

The course also includes:

  • Ecofeminism – concept and process
  • State of Ecology – global, regional and national
  • Ecological Advocacy and Alternatives
  • Holistic Health and Alternative Healing
  • Ecofeminist Creation and Spirituality

The daily schedule also includes:

  • Shibashi, an oriental form of  meditative exercise 

Exposure trips to other bio-diverse farms are also organized.


  • All food served are healthy and organic.
  • Other packages/special arrangements are offered depending on the number of persons and meals to be served.
  • Reservations are considered confirmed only upon payment of reservation fee (50%)Upon cancellation, 80% of the reservation fee made will be refunded.
  • Only guests with reservations are accepted.

Nursia, the Institute’s Home

931 Estrada Street, Malate
Manila, Philippines
Phone: (632) 522-3551
Fax: (632) 523-0693
Email: iwsmnl@yahoo.com / iws@ssc.edu.ph

Nursia was the Birthplace of St. Scholastica and St. Benedict. 

It is the name given to the three-story home of the Institute of Women’s Studies when it was constructed in 1990.

Nursia houses the staff offices of the Institute.  It is intended principally for in-house courses, seminars and soirees.  The facilities can also be rented by women’s organizations and NGOs, depending on availability.

IWS Facilities
  • Conference hall (50 pax capacity)
  • Library and Reading Room
  • Dormitory
  • Pension rooms for paying guests (with air-condition and private bath)
  • Dining Room (that doubles as another function room for 25 persons)
  • Catering service
  • Serves as an alternative store for farm products and other bio-degradable goods