Philippines: Jurists call for action to end discriminatory attitudes and conduct towards women

At a webinar co-convened by the ICJ on 23 October, participants discussed the persistent prevalence of gender stereotyping and discrimination in the justice sector in the Philippines, and the actions needed to combat these attitudes and practices.

The event was conducted by the ICJ together with the Gender and Development Committee of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-GAD) and the Gender Law and Policy Program (GLPP) of the University of the Philippines College of Law, as the first of a series of webinars for formal justice actors in the Philippines on Eliminating Gender Discriminatory Attitudes and Behaviors Towards Women.

The event featured sessions attended by members of the 25th IBP Board of Governors and the National Officers, and deputy directors and commissioners of the IBP’s Commission on Bar Discipline.

The discussions used as a reference the foundational principles of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and focused on the role of lawyers and bar associations in promoting and protecting women’s human rights. Participants discussed how gender stereotyping was deployed to hinder women from accessing justice.

Lawyer Glenda T. Litong discussed the CEDAW foundational principles and the role of lawyers and bar associations in promoting women’s human rights, while lawyer Claire Angeline P. Luczon highlighted the importance of implementing State obligations in the area of non-discrimination and substantive equality.

Lawyers Krissi Shaffina Twyla A. Rubin, IBP-GAD Committee Chair Marienne Ibadlit, and Honey Tan participated in a panel discussing the role of lawyers and bar associations in promoting and protecting women’s human rights. Attorney Rubin emphasized the work of the Commission on Human Rights throughout the country to strengthen women’s access to justice and called on more volunteers from the IBP to address systemic violations of women’s human rights rooted in discriminatory attitudes and behaviors towards women. Attorney Ibadlit underscored her Committee’s initiatives, proposed legal reforms and encouraged the support and participation of all IBP officials. Honey Tan shared perspectives on the challenges of women lawyers in the Malaysian Bar.

Lawyer Evalyn G. Ursua and Judge Amy Alabado Avellano both tackled gender stereotypes and how these hinder women from accessing justice.

The webinar aimed to assist the IBP to identify and eliminate gender stereotypes and discriminatory practices that occur in the legal profession and be a strong advocate for women’s human rights. With this and similar events, the ICJ continues to work with the legal profession to achieve gender equality and to ensure that more women are able to access justice.

Since 2018, the ICJ has worked with the IBP to solidify efforts on the protection of the rights of women in the country, including through a workshop with legal aid providers who are at the frontlines of assisting women in accessing justice. After the workshop, the ICJ and the IBP signed a Memorandum of Agreement to undertake joint work on strengthening the IBP’s National Center for Legal Aid (NCLA). ICJ Commissioner Mikiko Otani has also addressed Philippine lawyers in 2019 at their bi-annual conference where it was emphasized that lawyers cannot remain faithful to their profession if they perpetuate gender discrimination.

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