Accountability For Discrimination Against Women in the Philippines: Key Findings and Recommendations From the CEDAW Committee’s Special Inquiry on Reproductive Rights
For the past 15 years, the Philippine government has allowed a restrictive local ordinance, Executive Order 003 (EO 003),1 to remain in place without any clear revocation, effectively banning modern contraceptives in the City of Manila. As a result, women and girls in Manila have experienced serious risks to their health and lives due to unwanted and unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions.2 EO 003 has trapped women in situations of poverty and denied them the ability to pursue educational and employment opportunities.3 In April 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee), which monitors compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), released a groundbreaking report finding the Philippine government accountable for grave and systematic reproductive rights violations as a result of EO 003 and other restrictive measures. The report was the outcome of a special inquiry conducted in the country in November 2012—the first such inquiry conducted by the CEDAW Committee in Asia and on contraceptive access. For women in the Philippines, this report is a momentous step forward in realizing their human rights to equality,4 dignity,5 and health6 as guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution, other domestic laws and policies, and international human rights instruments to which the Philippines is a party.