Senator Risa Hontiveros is a health and women’s rights advocate, a proud activist, and a champion of the basic sectors. She is the Philippines’ first socialist woman Senator.

Senator Risa is a proud member of the Akbayan Party and is its current National Chairperson. She has been fighting the good fight from an early age. When she was in high school at Saint Scholastica’s College Manila, she organized a student group that campaigned against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. In college, she fought for peace and social justice as a student council leader. In 2001, Hontiveros received the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award for Peace Advocacy for her work in the peace talks with the national Democratic Front (NDF). Four years later in 2005, she was one of 27 Filipinas that joined a group of 1,000 women worldwide who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Senator Hontiveros also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). She pushed for expanded benefits and coverage, specifically for indigents and senior citizens.

She currently serves in the 18th Congress as the Chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children, and Family Relations, which was also the committee she headed in the 17th Congress. She was also the Chairperson of the Committee on Health for the 17th Congress, and later became its Vice Chairperson.

Senator Hontiveros continues to push for legislation which fights social injustice, inequality, and the struggle for stronger gender rights for all. As part of her flagship measures for the new Congress, she recently re-filed the SOGIE Equality Bill which affirms and protects the rights of members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination, and the Divorce Bill.

She also re-filed a measure to strengthen the Anti-Hospital Detention Law. Her other filed measures are The Universal Social Pension for Senior Citizens Bill, The Girls not Brides Bill, the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy Bill, the Expanded Solo Parents Welfare Bill, a bill to raise the age of sexual consent in the country, the On-Site, In-City, Near City Resettlement Program Bill, and a bill for the creation of a Department of Ocean, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Other bills include the Magna Carta for Seafarers, the Bibong Barangay Health Workers Bill, which seeks to provide a fixed allowance as well as statutory benefits for all barangay health workers. She also filed the Students Rights and Welfare Bill, the National Land Use Management Act, the Anti-Elder Abuse Act, and the Public Health Intervention for Drug Use Act.

In her first term as senator, Senator Risa has passed 13 laws: the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, the strengthened Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Law, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Universal Healthcare Law, the Philippine HIV & AIDS Policy Law, the amended Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities which provides mandatory Philhealth coverage for all PWD’s, the Philippine Mental Health Law, the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Law, the First 1,000 Days law or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng mga Nanay Law, the Speech Pathology Law, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Law, and the Simulated Birth Rectification Law.

The Mental Health Law is the Philippines’ first true national policy on mental health, while the Expanded Maternity Leave Law places the Philippines at par with international standards for both maternal and infant care. Risa has also strengthened legislation against sexual harassment through the Safe Spaces Act, which penalizes wolf-whistling, catcalling, flashing, groping, and other forms of street harassment.

Before her time in the Senate, Risa was a two-term partylist congressional representative. She worked for the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law together with civil society groups and fellow advocates, a landmark measure which provides women and families access to reproductive health and modern family planning services. She was also one of the principal authors of the Cheaper Medicines Law, and one of the key sponsors of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reform (CARPER) Law.

Risa Hontiveros graduated Cum Laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. Before she was a lawmaker, she was a community organizer and peace advocate. She was also a successful television journalist and news anchor. In her private life, she is a solo mother to four children and shares with them her love of music, culture, and the arts.

Source: Senate of the Philippines