The Urduja Women’s Desk (Desk) was formally created in 2002, at the same time that the Gender and the Law course was introduced as a law school elective, through the initiative of the Desk. Prior to its formal establishment though, AHRC has already been involved in women’s issues through research, particularly on the issues of trafficking in women and women migrant workers. Some of its earliest researches were The Philippines: A case study of the National Approaches for the Legal Protection of Asian Women Migrant Workers (1998); Trafficking in Women between Belgium and the Philippines (Legal Component) (1998), Maid From the Philippines – (Information on laws and practical tips on domestic work in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia)(1998), and Filipino Migrant Workers in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei: What They Need To Know and What They Have To Tell (1999). These researches have translated into publications, lectures and trainings. To date and through its student-interns, the Desk continues its advocacy for gender equality and women’s rights through research, publication, curriculum and module development, awareness-raising through information dissemination and trainings on gender-sensitivity, CEDAW and current laws addressing various forms of violence against women. The latest study that was made possible through the Desk was An Analysis of Supreme Court decisions on Rape and Sexual Assault: Assessing their compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) mandate to eliminate Gender Discrimination and promote Gender Equality, in Compilation of Monitoring Research on Thematic Judicial Cases, (2019).
Notably, from 2006 to 2012, the Desk implemented AHRC’s project with UNIFEM and the Philippine Judicial Academy, conducting trainings on CEDAW and Gender Sensitivity. It also came out with a Training Manual on Gender Sensitivity and CEDAW (2007) and the CEDAW BENCHBOOK, (2008).
The activities of the Urduja Women’s Desk extend to various sectors and communities which request its assistance. Since the lockdown, the Desk has come out with infographics on the different forms of violence and harassment women encounter during the Covid-19 pandemic. It endeavors to continue its advocacy and activities online, and in the future – onsite, once the situation becomes permissible.