Protecting Women’s Rights
Through the Courts
By Mónica Roa
grew up in a family with no father. I saw
the responsibilities that my mother had
to take on alone to raise my sister and
me. At the same time, I never had to obey
a male authority, and I saw great differ-
ences in other families where the father
was the absolute and unquestionable authority.
In 2003, I became involved in Women’s Link
Worldwide. Our strategy is to use the courts as a
platform to promote social change, particularly
on controversial issues that do not have political
majorities in the congress but affect human rights.
We start from the premise that democracy is not
just a government of the majorities, but includes a
guarantee of respect for the rights of minorities, and
that the task of protecting them is the responsibility
of judges. Judges are also the intermediaries between
rights on paper and in reality. They can ensure that
international human rights treaties and constitutional
rights have a concrete impact on people’s lives. We see
each lawsuit as an opportunity to position issues on
the agenda, to change the terms of certain debates and
to strengthen movements.
“Anti-rights groups seek the
neutralization or complete
nullification of reproductive rights.”
Protesters outside the Constitutional Court in Colombia as
Mónica Roa refiles a case for reproductive rights, December 2005 (left).
Roa with a book on the legal modifications, January 2 6, 2012 (right).
LEF T: COUR TESY OF MÓNICA ROA
Americas Quarterly SPRING 2012
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARIA ELISA DUQUE