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IAWJ takeaways from CSW68

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IAWJ takeaways from CSW68
IAWJ takeaways from CSW68
By Jane-Adrienne Karla Charles-Voltaire
Posted: 2024-04-04T17:27:18Z

The 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), focused on "Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls," took place from March 11 to 22, 2024. It highlighted the need for investment in gender equality to combat women's poverty and achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) actively participated in and attended various side and parallel events, contributing to discussions on strengthening the role of women in the judiciary and beyond. (Side events are hosted by NGOs, parallel events are sponsored by governments). 

During the two weeks, IAWJ Staff, including Anne Goldstein, Jane Charles-Voltaire, Alexandra Jackson, and Amie Lewis, participated in various CSW events. They reflected on the CSW68 offerings, noting the insights gained, stories of progress shared, and the path forward it illuminated to amplify women's voices within the legal system and beyond. Here's how IAWJ plans to move forward, drawing from the collective wisdom shared during the event: 


  • IAWJ leaders actively participated in the High-Level side event "Advancing women in the judiciary," co-sponsored by the State of Qatar, the Republic of Indonesia, the Kingdom of Morocco, Turkey, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The event showcased the international commitment to enhancing women's roles in the judiciary. Inspiring stories from women judges across different countries highlighted the significant strides made and the aspirations for future advancements.  

IAWJ President, Judge Binta Nyako (Federal High Court of Nigeria from Katsina State) shared video remarks advocating for Peace and women's meaningful inclusion in the peace processes (watch her recorded remarks here). IAWJ President-Elect, Judge Mina Sougrati (Administrative Tribunal of Casablanca, Morocco) reflected on her country’s judicial progress since appointing its first female judge over 60 years ago. Justice Nani Indrawati (Supreme Court of Justice for Indonesia) presented data on women in the judiciary, highlighting ongoing challenges and potential pathways for advancement. IAWJ Past President, Judge Vanessa Ruiz (Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, USA) highlighted concerns about the slow pace of progress, underlining the critical need for political determination to advance the inclusion of women in the judiciary. She underscored that ensuring women have an equal role is fundamental to developing judicial systems that are resilient, forward-looking, and fully equipped to serve the diverse needs of society. 

This event underscored the ongoing challenges and the urgency of a real global commitment to gender equality in the legal system, showcasing the collaborative efforts towards this goal. 

  • Empowering peace: cost-effectiveness and value-added of women’s conflict prevention work. Panelists explained how the Peacebuilding Commission has created an important platform and space for women to participate meaningfully. For example, the Peacebuilding Commission’s Gender Strategy acknowledges the barriers and backlash that women in leadership face in conflict and endorses the concept that empowering peace requires full and equal participation of women at all levels, supported by adequate funding and resources. In the 25 years since the Landmark Resolution on Women, Peace and Security (S/RES/1325) women continue to bear the brunt of conflicts they didn’t start, with millions living in conflict zones. Their inclusion in decision-making is vital for ending wars and achieving peace, impacting access to essentials like water and humanitarian aid, and mediating local conflicts. 
  • The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) organized the side event: Leading the way: women's empowerment and leadership in customary and informal justice systems. IDLO Executive Director, Jan Beagle highlighted the need for gender–responsive systems that make justice more accessible to vulnerable women and youth. Chief Judge Melissa L. Pope ( Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Court of Appeals) spoke of indigenous women’s leadership in restorative justice strategies to address historic and contemporary crimes and harmful policies. 

Way Forward: 

UN Women's Executive Director, Sima Bahous, affirmed her dedication to advancing this agenda, underlining a collective commitment to gender equality in the judiciary. 

  • Political Will and Leadership: Recognizing the indispensable role of political will in driving the agenda for gender equality, the IAWJ is committed to advocating for and engaging with leaders at all levels to ensure a sustained focus on gender parity within the judiciary and informal justice systems.  
  • Data-driven Intersectional Approaches: Utilizing data-driven and intersectional approaches will enable us to address the multifaceted barriers women face in the judiciary. This entails not just quantitative analysis but also qualitative insights into the experiences of women judges and legal professionals across different cultures and legal systems. 
  • Allocation of Resources: Adequate financial and human resources are fundamental to our mission. The IAWJ will work towards securing the necessary funding and support to empower women in the judiciary and to facilitate their contributions to peace and justice. 
  • Accountability Mechanisms: Establishing robust accountability mechanisms and follow-up processes will ensure that commitments to gender equality translate into tangible outcomes. This includes monitoring progress, evaluating the impact of initiatives, and adapting strategies based on lessons learned. 
  • Legislation and Norms: The IAWJ will continue to support efforts to reform legal frameworks and practices to ensure they reflect and uphold the principles of gender equality and justice. 

In the words of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “Patriarchy is indeed an age-old tradition. Discrimination against women goes back millennia. But we don’t want to bring it back. We want to turn it back.” This powerful message resonates deeply with our mission at the IAWJ. As we forge ahead, inspired by the collective wisdom and shared experiences of CSW68, we are more committed than ever to turning the tide against patriarchy and championing the cause of women in the judiciary, all justice seekers, and for a more just and equitable world. 

The journey ahead is challenging but filled with opportunities for meaningful change. Together, with unwavering dedication and solidarity, we can and will make a difference in advancing gender equality within the judiciary and beyond. 

#CSW68 #IAWJ #WomenInJustice #GenderEquality #Empowerment