Key Achievements of the CEDAW SEAP Phase II Programme in Philippines

Informed by the CEDAW Committee Concluding Comments/Observations on the 5th and 6th State Party reports, the Philippines Implementation Plan for CEDAW SEAP II 2011-2016 was developed with the participation of a broad range of stakeholders from government and civil society during the inception phase.  Representatives of diverse women’s groups, including women from disadvantaged sectors, marginalized and excluded groups of women were invited to participate in FGDs and consultations to design the implementation plan in 2011. As the commencement of CEDAW SEAP II coincided almost with the first year of implementation of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) the attention turned to key challenges identified in implementing the MCW and the protection and promotion of WHR of disadvantaged groups of women as cited in the CEDAW Committee Concluding Comments and the MCW.

Key achievements:

1.    CEDAW Concluding Comment on strengthened legal framework and discriminatory provisions in laws, and on strengthening NWM

CEDAW and other GE commitments integrated in national development plan and system-wide accountability mechanism strengthened with coordinated and integrated approach, through the formulation of Women’s EDGE Plan. This also strengthened NWM’s position to coordinate MCW implementation, undertake policy oversight, and advance priority legislative agenda.

Awareness and understanding of Philippine commitments under CEDAW strengthened and deepened among key duty bearer institutions with strategic role to provide policy oversight, deliver justice, and adopt and amend laws (executive, judicial and legislative branches).

Capacity to use CEDAW as standard and basis for formulating and reviewing national laws and policies strengthened.

Potential risks and challenges in regard to CEDAW compliance in lawmaking identified (i.e. in regard to ARMM and Bangsamoro), and capacity to respond to these challenges strengthened among duty bearers and civil society organizations. (see outputs and outcomes in regard to capacity development activities for ARMM RHRC  and EGM on Gender responsive BBL). CEDAW SEAP II activities also contributed to building a pool of gender equality champions and WHR advocates in government and civil society who will sustain the work on monitoring legislation and advancing legal reforms toward amending or repealing discriminatory provision sin existing laws, including in the CMPL.

With the MCW mandate for Gender Ombud in place, capacity of NHRI (CHR and RHRC) to perform their function as Gender Ombud strengthened particularly through increasing their awareness and understanding of CEDAW and their role as NHRI and Gender Ombud.

Awareness of women’s human rights as guaranteed in CEDAW, Magna Carta of Women and other national laws, among rights holders, especially among disadvantaged groups of women, increased and skills for claiming these rights strengthened.

2.    CEDAW Concluding Comment on the need to pay special attention to the precarious situation of rural, indigenous and Muslim women especially in the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao, their access to justice and their access to water, health and other services

Capacities of rural, indigenous women, and Muslim women particularly those located in the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao, to articulate and advocate for their rights, including access to justice in plural legal systems, and to monitor implementation of CEDAW and other gender equality commitments are being strengthened.  Their issues and women’s human rights, as well as the issues of other marginalized and excluded groups of women and women in especially difficult circumstances (as identified in the Magna Carta of Women), have been a dominant focus in the Philippines work plan in CEDAW SEAP II.

Advocacy agenda articulating their rights and advocacy positions have been formulated and presented to stakeholders, and duty bearers have been sensitized to their issues and concerns. Critical issues and challenges to their access to justice in plural legal systems – in selected areas – have been identified and surfaced in ongoing research. Learning tools customized to their identified needs and capacities are also being developed. Advocacy agenda

3.    CEDAW Concluding Comment on trafficking and women migrant workers, and on reproductive health and rights

An increased understanding of commitments under CEDAW in regard to trafficking and rights of women migrant workers among selected duty bearers has been achieved.  Key actors in lawmaking and legislative oversight, including migration law, have been trained on CEDAW and how to use CEDAW as standard and basis for amending and/or making laws.

Awareness of reproductive health and reproductive rights and ability to gather evidence of HWR violations among selected poor women increased. Evidence gathered by poor women provided substantive inputs during CEDAW inquiry.

4.    CEDAW Concluding Comment on the need to bring about changes in traditional patriarchal attitudes in society.

Overall, one key achievement of CEDAW SEAP II is increased awareness and deeper understanding of CEDAW and how to apply CEDAW in specialized and specific areas, especially in situations where prevailing and traditional patriarchal attitudes pose barriers to WHR protection, and of state obligations to modify patterns of behavior that directly and indirectly discriminate women:

Deeper understanding of CEDAW and its applicability in emergency and conflict situations;

Deeper understanding of Philippines’ commitments under CEDAW and implications for challenging gender stereotypes in justice system and state obligations to monitor and regulate non-state justice system;

Deeper understanding of CEDAW and state obligations, and strengthened skills to review and amend discriminatory provisions in laws and to formulate and adopt WHR-compliant laws.

Deeper understanding of the challenges faced by women in accessing justice, including access to justice in plural legal contexts, and identified possible strategies to address such challenges.

Key Achievements per Outcome (CEDAW Prodoc Outcomes)


A.    Strengthened political will and capacities of duty bearers and enhanced monitoring and accountability mechanisms for CEDAW implementation on duty bearers’ side and claim holders (through their civil society organizations), including for implementation and monitoring of Philippines’ Magna Carta of Women:

1. Women’s EDGE Plan, and NWM: To strengthen capacity of Philippine government to implement CEDAW and other gender equality commitments in an integrated and harmonized approach across all line agencies and sectors of government, UN Women supported in 2011 the formulation of the Women’s EDGE Plan 2012-2016, initiated by the National Women’s Machinery (Philippine Commission on Women) through a participatory and consultative process involving duty bearers (all sectors of government) and claim holders.

This resulted in the formulation and adoption of a 3-year plan to integrate  CEDAW and other gender equality commitments into a national development plan, serving as companion document to the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016 and reference for monitoring progress on implementation of CEDAW and other gender equality commitments. Publication of the final Women’s EDGE document, reviewed and adopted by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and initialed by the President, was also supported by UN Women and launched in March 2014.

This also increased the capacity and position of the NWM (Philippine Commission on Women) to provide policy oversight.

OUTCOME 2 and 3

2. Capacities of National Human Rights Institutions – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the ARMM Regional Human Rights Commission (which functions as NHRI in the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao)  to promote WHR and function as Gender Ombud enhanced.

Two (1) training workshops for CHR conducted:  a) to increase awareness of CEDAW among CHR officers and partners in Mindanao, especially CEDAW’s applicability during emergency and conflict situations (2012); and b) to deepen knowledge and understanding of how to apply it on trafficking issues and on its provision with special interest in role of NHRIs in preparing independent reports (2013, in collaboration with IWRAW and MCISD).

Two (2) training workshops for RHRC to promote an integrated multi-treaty approach on WHR and women’s access to justice in plural legal systems (2015)


3. Capacities of rights holders and their civil society organizations, particularly those representing rural, indigenous and Muslim women and women from other marginalized and excluded groups, to advocate for their Women’s Human Rights (WHR) and monitor the implementation of CEDAW,  have been enhanced. Special attention has been paid to the rights and situation of rural, indigenous and Muslim women (note CEDAW Concluding Comments) especially in the autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao. Awareness of reproductive health and reproductive rights among poor women in urban community, increased, and their capabilities to collect evidence of WHR and specifically RR violations enhanced (see Concluding Comments wrt reproductive health and reproductive rights). Capacity of rural women to articulate their rights and contribute substantively to drafting of a CEDAW General Recommendation on Rural Women enhanced.

Poor women in urban poor communities trained and supported to collect evidence of violations of women’s human rights and reproductive rights and present substantive inputs and evidence to duty bearers and the  CEDAW Committee inquiry. (2012)

One national consultation on the role of NGOs in monitoring CEDAW implementation was conducted.  Bringing together representatives Muslim women’s groups, indigenous women from different parts of the country, women with disabilities, WHR advocates, and advocates of LBT rights, women workers in the informal economy, among others, this facilitated dynamic exchange among NGOs to share good practices on CEDAW monitoring and shadow reporting and strengthened commitment to work together and coordinate actions. As a direct result of this consultation, the NGOs engaged in dialogue with government to present NGO proposals for the statement of the Philippine delegation to CSW and to increase NGO representation in the Philippine delegation.  (2013)

Rural women, with support of UN Women, drafted and submitted substantive inputs for the CEDAW Committee’s discussion on GR on Rural Women.  (2013)

WHR and Gender-Responsive Governance Advocacy agenda of rural and indigenous women formulated and advocated in four (4) sub-national/regional areas in Mindanao.  Rural and indigenous women’s groups supported to engage in policy dialogues and present and lobby for these agenda with sub-national government agencies.  This resulted in increased awareness of sub-national government agencies and other duty bearers about the rights and situation of rural and indigenous women, and expressions of commitments on their part to pay more attention to these issues. (2013-ongoing)


B. Awareness among duty bearers and rights holders, including key actors in the formal/state justice system, about the current state of women’s access to justice and especially in light of CEDAW commitments, increased and deepened. Duty bearers and claim holders supported to engage in dialogues and consultations in aid of developing strategies to enhance women’s access to justice.  Political will to address this issue was strengthened as a result of and as evidenced by several activities participated in or initiated by duty bearer institutions and with civil society organizations:

One (1) Public Forum and one (1) national consultation on Women’s Access to Justice organized by UN Women (2011 and 2012);

One (1) Public Forum on Women’s Access to Justice  organized and supported by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to launch UN Women’s Progress of World’s Women Report, “In Pursuit of Justice,” in response to UN Women’s call for greated need to address this issue, and with only technical support form UN Women (2011).

One (1) National Forum on Women’s Access to Justice organized, funded and initiated by a national academic institution, in response to UN Women’s call to address access to justice issue, and where UN Women was invited to give a presentation on CEDAW (2012).


C. Awareness and understanding among duty bearers and civil society organizations about situation of women’s access to justice in contexts of plural legal systems increased.  This contributes to strengthened capacity to develop strategies for enhancing women’s access to justice and making justice actors in non-state/informal justice systems more aware of Philippines’ commitments under CEDAW.

One (1) national workshop on women’s access to justice in plural legal systems and UN Women’s Research Guidance Paper conducted to surface critical issues and generate substantive inputs and feedback on UN Women’s Guidance Paper. (2013)

One (1) national research on women’s access to justice in plural legal systems conducted, and findings presented at a national consultation. (2014)

One (1) national consultation (first of its kind) on women’s access to justice in plural legal systems organized by UN Women, bringing together representatives of government institutions, key actors in justice system and law enforcement, civil society groups and WHR advocates, academe, and women from grassroots communities. (2014)


5. Capacities of duty bearers and rights holders to formulate WHR-compliant laws and/or advocate for CEDAW-based legal reforms strengthened. Awareness among legislators and CSOs engaged in legislative advocacy about CEDAW commitments increased; skills to use CEDAW as standard and basis for formulating laws and legislative reform agenda strengthened.

Two (2) trainings on CEDAW-based legal review conducted.


6. Special attention has been paid to the rights and situation of Muslim women especially in the autonomous region of Mindanao (see Concluding Comments), and to enhancing capacities of duty bearers and rights holders.

National Consultation (first of its kind) to bring together duty bearers and rights holders to discuss challenges to WHR in Mindanao convened by UN Women. This facilitated dialogue and exchange between government and civil society (national and sub-national) to discuss strategies to address critical gaps in WHR. (2013)

Representatives of Muslim women’s groups and WHR advocates supported to conduct initial review of draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and convened in an Experts’ Group Meeting  to formulate proposed provisions to strengthen WHR guarantees and make BBL more gender-responsive.  Dialogue with Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) was facilitated; proposals for gender-responsive BBL were submitted to the BTC as substantive inputs from women’s groups. (2014)