Performing Leadership: Intersectionality of Gender and Ethnicity in the Narratives of Meranao Women Leaders in Mindanao

Author: Lynrose Jane Genon (Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, The Philippines)
Speaker: Lynrose Jane Genon
Topic: Language, Gender, Sexuality
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


The study explores the intersection of gender and ethnicity as a point of inquiry in the emerging roles of Maranao women in the field of leadership. Drawing on qualitative interviews with Meranao Women Leaders in Lanao del Norte and Lanao Del Sur in Mindanao, Philippines, this paper examines the multilayered issues and challenges they face as they leap into higher decision-making positions. It specifically seeks to (1) identify the factors that shape the leadership experiences of Meranao women leaders and their performative repertoire–actions that they choose to perform to create and maintain the commitment of the constituents around them; (2) examine how women leaders are able to perform their leadership roles given the opportunities and constraints; and (3) articulate how Meranao Women are etching leadership in Meranao politics and development.

Results show that the intersectional approach on leadership reveals not only the issues and challenges Meranao women leaders face but also the individual agency and strategies they use to overcome constraints. Such approach challenges the essentialist framing of leadership and helps articulate the leadership realities of these leaders in the process of meeting the traditional and modern expectations of them, which are informed by wider discourses influenced and embedded in the Meranao culture. Multiple layers of identity–gender and ethnicity as the focus of this study–render particular ways of leadership, but its relationship is not unidirectional. It is revealed that ethnicity and gender influences the performance of leadership as much as how the performance of leadership influences the perceived expectations of gender and ethnicity. This reinforces Meranao Women leaders agency through a negotiated form of leadership where they were able to recognize their constraints while finding openings to transcend these constraints and challenge hierarchical boundaries

Keywords: Negotiated Leadership, Women Leaders, Maranao Women, Intersectionality, Performativity, Mindanao