“Women’s Link has afforded me the privilege of constructing new paradigms in my work, of understanding our role as the new generation of feminists who use the law as an agent of social change to make gender justice a reality. The challenge of constructing an organization with its own principles is a constant reminder that change begins at home and that the best reward is to see young men and women finding the inspiration to follow a professional path dedicated to equality and justice, whether at Women’s Link or wherever it is that they may find it.” –Mónica Roa.
On June 12, 2012, as part of the Summer Conversations Series, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law invited Ms. Monica Roa, Director of Programs at Women’s Link Worldwide, to speak about Women’s Rights in Latin America: Impact of Strategic Litigation. Women’s Link Worldwide is an international human rights organization “working to ensure that gender equality is a reality around the world, through the implementation of international human rights standards and strategic work with the courts, including strategic litigation.”
Ms. Roa began by showing a video recounting the strategies behind the petition she filed in 2005 before the Constitutional Court of Colombia that ultimately decriminalized abortion in the country and legalized it under three circumstances: rape; malformations incompatible with life outside the uterus; and when the women’s life or health –physical and mental- is in danger.
Ms. Roa explained how the petition was Women’s Link’s first “high impact litigation” project and the importance of first “mapping” the political and legal situation in Colombia to develop the litigation strategy. In the process, they realized that if they asked for the complete legalization of abortion, it would have likely received a negative response, given the political and legal situation in Colombia at the time. Therefore, requesting the legalization of abortion under specific circumstances, made the legalization of abortion more achievable. READ MORE »