Résumé : The PhD research traces the evolution of gender equality policies in the Philippines. The Asian archipelago has been riddled by contrasting gender equality legislative and policy developments for a long time. On the one hand, the country is a forerunner in Southeast Asia in terms of enacting gender policies in the spheres of political participation, gender budgeting and violence against women. On the other, reproductive health rights are highly contested and abortion and divorce remain prohibited. Finding the origin of these diverging policy developments is the aim of this research. In contrast to prevailing scholarship that examines the Philippines’ gender policy terrain through the impact of international norms, this thesis adopts the theoretical lens of historical institutionalism and shifts the investigation to a domestic level. Therefore, through the employment of in-depth process tracing, it sheds new light to the puzzle. On the one hand, the research provides a historical analysis that goes back to the shift of colonialisms from Spain to the United States. On the other, the investigation “zooms in” to the micro level and provides in-depth insights on the actors, processes and institutional factors that preceded the enactment of the Reproductive Health Law in 2012 and subsequently hampered its implementation. Furthermore, the research traces how the concept “gender equality” has been contested by various actors, its meaning negotiated and institutionalized into the political system of the Philippines. Finally, based on the empirical findings, the thesis posits that continuous competition of the Philippine Catholic Church and the state has shaped the archipelago’s diverging policy arenas with regards to gender equality.