In November 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited one of our clinics. As the Director of the Likhaan Centre for Women’s Health in the Philippines, I was thrilled. This visit comes after decades of hard work by all of my colleagues at Likhaan to implement the principles of equality, justice, feminism and universal healthcare. This is the first time that a Canadian Prime Minister visited one of Inter Pares international counterparts.
The number of women in the Philippines who die in childbirth is appalling. We also have amongst the highest and most consistent adolescent pregnancy rates in Asia. Historically, women and girls have faced numerous economic, social and religious barriers in accessing contraception. Abortion under any circumstances is illegal. Combined with poverty and inequality, too many women have little control over their bodies, their lives, the ability to fulfil their aspirations, and their future. I have been working for my entire life to change this.
Likhaan’s community organizing and health promotion work with women and youth groups reached over 20,000 people in 2017. We provided services such as family planning and birthing support to over 30,000. We work to ensure that women and girls know their rights and are able to assert them, with respect to reproductive health issues and beyond.
In a very real way, Inter Pares’ donors across Canada have been helping to make Likhaan’s work possible since 1995. Our relationship is collaborative, and reliable, based on shared values of feminism and justice. Inter Pares has been, throughout the years, the one organization that stood with us and by us. I want to thank the Inter Pares community across Canada. I look forward to continuing our collective journey, and to finding new ways to express solidarity.