On 29 August and 5 September, the ICJ collaborated with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to hold a webinar series for legal aid providers in the Philippines on eliminating gender discriminatory attitudes and behaviors towards women.
Members of IBP’s legal aid committees from the Eastern and Western Mindanao Regions participated in these webinars, focused on gender stereotypes and discriminatory practices that exist in the legal profession and in the work of legal aid providers who directly engage with women when they seek justice.
Dato Ambiga Sreenevasan, ICJ’s Commissioner from Malaysia, addressed the promotion and protection of women’s human rights in the context of the legal profession: “While conditions for women have improved, there is still work to be done to achieve equality between men and women in the legal profession. At the entry level, things appear to be going well, but we must look also at women’s opportunities throughout their legal career and question why it is the case that some areas are still male-dominated.”
Mikiko Otani, ICJ’s Commissioner from Japan and a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, spoke about how gender stereotypes and gender discrimination hinder women from accessing justice. “The Bar should be at the forefront of advocating for improvement in legal structures that would help eliminate gender discrimination,” she said.
The Philippines had previously featured as one of the top ten performers in addressing gender disparities, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. However, it has recently fallen to rank 16th out of 153 countries. Emerlynne Gil, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, acknowledged various measures adopted by the Philippines to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), such as the adoption of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act and the Magna Carta for Women. She noted, however, that the Philippines still must do a great deal more.
“The existing culture of impunity and lack of effective remedies for women to access the justice system are just some of the difficult challenges the country faces that prevent it from achieving this goal,” Emerlynne Gil said.
The webinar series also featured a discussion on specific challenges faced by women when accessing justice during the COVID 19 pandemic and in the context of the “drug war” in the Philippines. The lawyers discussed their role and also that of the Bar as an institution to immediately identify and eliminate these gender stereotypes to ensure their clients’ right to access to justice.
Judge Amy Alabado Avellano, a Regional Trial Court judge in the Philippines led this discussion. Attorney Burt Estrada, IBP Executive Vice President, and Attorney Marienne Ibadlit, former IBP Governor for Western Visayas, also held a dialogue with the lawyers on how the IBP as a professional association for lawyers in the Philippines could contribute towards enhancing access to justice for women in the country.
For questions and clarifications, please contact Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Senior International Legal Adviser, t: +662 619 8477 (ext. 206); e: emerlynne.gil(a)icj.org.AdvocacyWeb stories