About EnGendeRights

What is EnGendeRights?

EnGendeRights, Inc. is a legal non-governmental organization advancing women’s rights through domestic and international legal and policy advocacy, research, publication, training, and impact litigation in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

We may be contacted through Ms. Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director, EnGendeRights, Inc., 88-A Calumpit Street, Veteran’s Village, Quezon City, 1105 Philippines with telefax (+632) 376-2578, mobile (+63) 918-2182682, email engenderights@pldtdsl.net; cc: to padillaclara@yahoo.com and web site http://www.engenderights.org. Our preferred mode of communication is by email.

When and why was EnGendeRights founded, and who started it?

EnGendeRights was founded to advocate for women’s free exercise of their sexuality and their right to reproductive self-determination free of discrimination, coercion and violence including women’s access to the full range of contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, and to safe and legal abortion, and equality of lesbians and women bisexuals and transgenders and their freedom from discrimination. It was founded in December 2003 by its Executive Director Ms. Clara Rita A. Padilla. We received our first funding in August 2004.

What are EnGendeRights’ main goals?

EnGendeRights actively promotes a human rights-based approach to sexual and reproductive health in Philippine laws and policies and in East and Southeast Asia. It seeks to empower women and achieve equality for women. It believes that making abortion safe and legal saves women’s lives and that being able to decide if and when to bear children enables women to lead the quality of life she wants for herself and for her living children, if she has any, and contributes to her physical, mental and social well-being and the good of society, in general.

One of the immediate goals of EnGendeRights is to create a working group of mostly women legal advocates promoting sexual and reproductive rights by applying international human rights standards in domestic laws and policies and promoting advances in international and domestic jurisprudence in Philippine jurisprudence. This working group of legal advocates will become pioneers in the area of advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the legal arena championing the important causes and issues that are critical for the achievement of women’s equality and empowerment. They will provide the legal expertise in the advocacies of women’s reproductive rights activists (called “advocates for choice”) in achieving women’s right to sexual and reproductive self-determination.

EnGendeRights seeks to raise awareness and access to emergency contraception (EC) to prevent unwanted pregnancies, post exposure prophylaxis (PEPs) to prevent transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to safe and legal abortion. EnGendeRights also aims to protect the rights of lesbians and ensure their freedom from discrimination. EnGendeRights works towards the elimination violence against women, prostitution and trafficking and towards raising awareness on the negative impact of migration. EnGendeRights gives particular attention to rights of adolescent girls, women and girls with disabilities, and women from indigenous, Muslim and rural communities.

Who are we?

EnGendeRights is a legal non-governmental organization with a staff and board of trustees that are all women. EnGendeRights is spearheaded by its founding member and Executive Director Ms. Clara Rita A. Padilla, a widely published feminist lawyer and women’s rights activist. Ms. Padilla was a Visiting International Legal Fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights from July 2002 to July 2003. She has been an active member of the Reproductive Rights Resource Group, Philippines (3RG-Phils) since its inception in 1999. Ms. Padilla actively gives trainings, writes articles and papers, and litigates on sexual and reproductive rights (SRHR). Ms. Padilla leads the organization in the implementation of its projects.

The Programme Coordinator, Anita B. Visbal, is in charge of research, advocacy, coordinating and facilitating the paralegal trainings, coordination with program/project partners, proposal writing and representation of the organization. The Administrative Officer, Lerizza V. Garin, is in charge of office set-up and equipment, correspondence, petty cash liquidation, among others. The Bookkeeper, Ma. Lucia Sanchez, is charged with bookkeeping, maintenance of financial records, financial reporting, and accounting, among others.

EnGendeRights has a Philippine and International Board of Trustees. The Philippine Board discusses issues pertaining to administrative, management, funding, networking, and strategic advocacy work. The International Board Member gives advice on matters regarding accessing funds, networking with NGOs and activists, and strengthening advocacy strategies.

The Philippine Board members are Dr. Amaryllis Torres, Dean of College of Social Work and Community Development and Chairperson of EnGendeRights Board; Ms. Rowena Alvarez, Co-Chairperson of 3RG-Phils and former Executive Director of Institute for Social Studies and Action; Ms. Gladys Malayang, Executive Director of Health and Development Initiatives Institute; Gertrudes Ranjo Libang, officer of Gabriela and former Executive Director of Center for Women’s Resources; Ms. Salome Ujano, former Executive Director of Women’s Crisis Center; Ms. Alma dela Rosa, Executive Director of Women’s Action in Media and Co-Chairperson of 3Rg-Phils; Ms. Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights.

The International Board Member is Ms. Emelina Quintillan, a lawyer who formerly worked as the Senior Program Officer for Asia of Pacific Institute for Women’s Health, an NGO based in Los Angeles, California. She is the Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Network on Emergency Contraception (APNEC).

The Board members are sexual and reproductive health advocates, professors, media experts, lawyers, and counselors who are activists for SRHR. Many of the board members have been in this line of work for decades now while a couple belongs to a younger generation of advocates reflecting much-needed intergenerational mix in our work.

What are the main activities of EnGendeRights?

EngendeRights advances women’s rights through domestic and international legal and policy advocacy, research, publication, training, and impact litigation in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

EnGendeRights continually advocates in the domestic and international fora in an effort to draw attention to prevailing SRHR issues and to gather support towards effecting changes for the fulfillment of the obligations of governments under international law. Our domestic advocacy work includes submission of position papers in Congress and in pending actions in government agencies, bill/ordinance/circular drafting, sign-on petitions and call for amici curaie. Our international work involves advocating with the CEDAW Committee, Human Rights Committee, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Council and the Working Group to the Draft Optional Protocol to the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

EnGendeRights conducts workshops/trainings on various laws, policies and issues relating to women at the same time hinging women’s rights by argumentation with the use of international human rights standards and national and international jurisprudence on SRHR. The workshops/trainings enables the participants to appreciate ways of effectively applying universally recognized human rights standards and international and national jurisprudence in legal strategies designed to address SRHR, particularly in litigation and in national advocacy and lobbying initiatives. EnGendeRights takes on legal challenges against discriminatory laws and policies through filing of test cases, position paper drafting, research and production of advocacy materials. In these researches, publications and litigation materials, we use international human rights standards, medical evidence, progressive international and domestic laws, policies and jurisprudence to promote SRHR.

What are the top priorities of EnGendeRights?

To ensure policy changes throughout the Philippines, the continued dissemination, popularization, and use of the CEDAW Concluding Comments is an essential advocacy strategy to push forward SRHR agenda in governance and development priorities of the government aside.

EnGendeRights’ engagement with CEDAW does not end with the issuance of the Concluding Comments. Beyond monitoring how the government fulfills each of these SRHR issues, critical input and collaborations with the government bodies concerned have to be ensured all throughout the process. EnGendeRights together with key SRHR networks and NGOs would have to create working and viable relationships with these concerned government agencies and establish possible allies and champions from within.

It is imperative to call the attention of the Philippine government to fulfill its obligation under CEDAW. EnGendeRights will continue to advocate on access to emergency contraceptive pills; enactment into law of the bills on Reproductive Health Care, Anti-Discrimination Against Sexual Orientation; repeal of the penalty imposed on women who induce abortion; improvement of the implementation of the Policy on Prevention and Management of Abortion Complications (PMAC); implementation of sexuality education in schools for adolescents; repeal of discriminatory provisions in the Muslim Code, among others. EnGendeRights will take on legal challenges against discriminatory laws and policies through filing of test cases, position paper drafting and presentation to legislative venues, research and production of advocacy materials.

Since arrests, threats, and harassments of safe abortion providers are done collaboratively by the media and police officers, EnGendeRights will prioritize provision of SRHR trainings including the briefings on the right to safe and legal abortion specifically for media practitioners and police officers. And since national and local legislators, the DOH, BFAD and health practitioners are crucial in legal and policy changes towards providing access to health information and services, EnGendeRights will also prioritize provision of SRHR trainings to them.

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