This week’s honor goes to DAMCELLE TORRES-CORTES who currently serves as Chairperson of Wedpro Philippines—an NGO that seeks to empower women. Her work with Wedpro involves the challenging task of empowering women sex workers who had been trafficked and abused, rejected by their families and communities, and consequently, are forced to live in a seemingly inescapable cycle of poverty.
According to Damcelle, the complexity of their issues requires very dedicated, strategic and creative interventions, which can sometimes be overwhelming for their small organization. But she contends that “Being in a network of other young leaders like Asia 21 encourages and inspires me to continue our advocacy. Each of the Asia 21 members work in their own fields of influence with difficulties. But each one remains resilient and innovative to contribute to improving people’s lives. While Asia 21 members are involved in diverse issues in various parts of the world, the stories and online exchanges fuel the hope things can really be better.”
Damcelle Torres-Cortes is an Assistant Professor teaching development management and governance graduate courses at the College of Public Affairs and Development, University of the Philippines Los Banos. She was recently a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Master in Public Administration as an Edward Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. A lawyer by profession, she has complemented her legal expertise with experience in development work as a former Program Officer of the Law and Human Rights Unit of The Asia Foundation and a former anchor for a weekly radio program on human rights. With her passion for gender equality, she has co-authored two books on gender jurisprudence—The Davide Court: Its Contributions to Gender and Jurisprudence (December 2006) and Engendering the Philippine Judiciary (December 2005.
Damcelle previously served the government as Commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women and Legislative Officer at the Senate of the Philippines. She also worked as an associate at Poblador Bautista & Reyes Law Offices.