Intramuros Learning Sessions (ILS) episode no. 84
About the Speaker
In a time of heightened attacks against women speaking truth to power, we pay an ode to the modern-day Gabrielas, whose bravery and commitment in advancing women’s causes show no bounds.
Approachable and pleasing, she welcomes you with her calming smile, assuring you that everything will be fine, every problem will have a solution.
JOVITA MATARO MONTES or “Obeth” to her family and friends has more than 20 years’ experience in handling cases of violence against women and children. She is the head psychologist for psychosocial counseling of the GABRIELA Advocacy Program and Services for Women and Children Program. For two terms, she holds the position of GABRIELA Deputy Secretary-General for External Affairs.
Her interest in humanitarian work and human rights started early in 1988 when she joined the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP). Unsurprisingly, she looked for a related vocation when she graduated from college. She started working with GABRIELA’s programs for children in the early 90’s, providing counseling services for children victims of abuse.
She later set up GABRIELA’s advocacy and services program which provided psychological therapy for women victims of violence and those in war-torn areas or conflict situations. Believing that the support system is part of the healing process for victims, Obeth organized the women victims into a support group that met regularly for sharing experiences and acted collectively for anti-violence campaigns. Such support group has spawned into the GABRIELA Network of Professionals composed of lawyers, doctors, and VAW victims so as to raise the campaign against violence against women and children (VAWC).
Under her leadership, the program has expanded to include emergency aid and psycho-social intervention programs for women and children in disaster-hit areas. Obeth assisted in setting livelihood programs in areas devastated by typhoon Haiyan in Roxas City, Capiz and Iloilo, central Philippines. These projects included setting up oyster farms and oyster sauce making, herbal gardens, fish drying facilities and the establishment of women’s centers in the two provinces. Believing in capacitating women, Obeth also helped in setting up health and capacity building programs in the different chapters of GABRIELA nationwide. She also trained women all over the country on psychosocial counseling and on women’s rights so that they can help women victims of violence. With the rampant political persecution GABRIELA members encounter nationwide, such knowledge on rights helped them assert their civil and constitutional rights.
The organized health workers under these programs became the community leaders who helped tremendously during disasters and during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These women community leaders were able to spearhead health and relief missions during the longest lockdown in 2020, setting up community herbal gardens and preparing herbal medicines.
Tirelessly, Obeth conducts capacity-building training-workshops on case handling, paralegal and leadership trainings for women from the grassroots. These workshops empower participants by providing the basic tools and skills for establishing intervention mechanisms at the community level.
About ILS no. 84
About the Intramuros Learning Sessions
The Intramuros Learning Sessions (ILS) is the educational webinar series of the Intramuros Administration (IA). The IA is an attached national government agency under the Department of Tourism.
Topics are interdisciplinary and cover themes related to Intramuros and Manila studies, Philippine studies, as well as cultural heritage studies. Pursuant to IA’s charter, the ILS aims to contribute to the strengthening of the Filipino’s national identity and sense of belonging and pride.
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