Today, we celebrate International Women Human Rights Defenders Day. Women human rights defenders are women who defend human rights, and all persons who defend the rights of women, girls and LGBTQIA+ persons.
Several human rights defenders and organizations declared November 29 as the International Day on Women Human Rights Defenders during the anniversary of the opening of the First International Consultation on Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) in 2005.
Since 2006, international WHRDs have been celebrated. States’ international commitments to protect the rights of WHRDs stretch back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) and crucially, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (1998).
In the Philippines, women and human rights organizations commemorate the day by articulating positions on rights violations of WHRDs.
Human rights violations continue to increase despite the government’s avowal to respect human rights, which are enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and other international covenants that the Philippines signed and ratified. As a result, many human rights advocates from various sectors have emerged to defend, protect and advance the cause of human rights in the Philippines.
Bayan Muna Partylist House Representatives Carlos Isagani “Kaloi” Tabora Zarate recently filed a bill to commemorate November 29 as National Consciousness Day on Women Human Rights Defenders Day and got approval from the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality.
The bill aims to promote the importance of respecting and defending human rights in the country, through educational activities that focus on human rights, gender and development issues, and how to become a human rights defender.