Philippines: Judges affirm the need to incorporate gender perspective in adjudication to address inequality and counter gender stereotypes

Nov 26, 2022 | Events, News

The Philippine judiciary should continue to work to ensure that the principles of gender equality and non-discrimination are fully integrated into decision-making processes. This was the core message in the series of Judicial Dialogues on Access to Justice for Women conducted by the International Commission of Jurists in partnership with the Supreme Court of the Philippines between 17 and 22 November 2022 in Manila.

More than 50 trial court judges from across the country participated in the four-day event.

The dialogues were focused on the responsibility of judges to protect and promote women’s human rights and to interpret domestic legislation in line with international human rights obligations, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Judges were called on to develop jurisprudence incorporating principles of equality and equal protection by adjudicating cases with a gender perspective and avoiding gender stereotypes and other biases.

The Dialogue considered that the Philippines had taken significant steps in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, including adopting legislation such as the Magna Carta of Women, and the Supreme Court Guidelines on the Use of Gender-Fair Language in the Judiciary and Gender-Fair Courtroom Etiquette. However, much remains to be done. Patently discriminatory laws, religious and cultural beliefs, and gender stereotypes continue to pose obstacles to fully realizing women’s human rights. Courts play an essential role in supporting and promoting equality and women’s rights.

At the highly-participatory dialogue, many of the judges affirmed the necessity of involving other justice actors, such as law enforcement and the prosecution service, in mainstreaming gender equality. The dialogue discussed the Bangkok General Guidance (BGG), a set of recommendations developed by South and Southeast Asian judges for the application of a gender perspective in adjudicating court cases.

Leading the group of expert speakers were ICJ Commissioner Nahla Haidar El Addal; ICJ Commissioner and former Philippine Supreme Court Justice Adolfo Azcuna; and Philippine Supreme Court Justice Maria Filomena D. Singh. Other speakers included BGG Technical Working Group Members Philippine Court of Appeals Associate Justice Geraldine C. Fiel- Macaraig and Philippine Anti-Graft Court Justice Maria Theresa V. Mendoza Arcega; and human rights lawyers Francis Tom Temprosa and Ryan Jeremiah Quan. Also participating were Philippine Supreme Court Associate Justices Henri Jean Paul B. Inting and Amy C. Lazaro – Javier, and ICJ National Legal Advisers Laxmi Pokharel (Nepal) and Caleen Chanyungco Obias (Philippines).

Caleen Obias, National Legal  Consultant,

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