To commemorate the International Day of Women Judges on March 10th, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO
) in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations, The American Bar Association
and the IAWJ hosted a side event on Women at the Forefront of Justice Delivery during the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Jane Charles-Voltaire (IAWJ Director of Programs) presented at the event and shared insight on the critical pathways towards enhancing women’s participation, retention, and leadership in the Justice Sector. She explained that through IAWJ’s partnerships with national associations and members, key approaches have been identified and can serve to guide interventions for promoting women’s leadership in the judiciary; these include: 1. Promoting enabling environments based on equity and inclusion, including policies that can address discrimination, promotions and wellness; 2. Providing women with opportunities for capacity building to address challenges they may face in male - dominated professional fields and equipping them to become leaders within those fields; 3. Providing mentorship and networking opportunities for information sharing and collegial support; 4. Adopting a collective approach to reduce backlash and advance changes within justice systems. Ms. Charles-Voltaire stressed the importance of understanding a particular country, regional and institutional context of gender inequality, ensuring that all pathways for change aligned with the concerns identified by local stakeholders.
Co-panelists included Hon. Lady Justice Jessie Lesiit, Court of Appeals of Kenya (IAWJ-KC), Hon. Delissa Ridgway, ABA Additional Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (NAWJ - USA), Bandana Rana, UN CEDAW Committee
, Lillian Adriko, CEO of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, FIDA - Uganda
. Panelists discussed the common challenges faced by women in the justice field, including explicit and implicit bias within justice institutions. Moreover, panelists spoke about the lack of available data to properly document gender disparity.
The IAWJ is committed to support women entering, rising and thriving within the judiciary. Our current program on Women’s Leadership in Law is driving initiatives in five countries to address the barriers faced by women judges. As the only global network of women judges, the IAWJ has sought to build the networks, spaces, and capacity for women judges to succeed in their leadership journeys and use their influence, voice, and position to smooth the pathway for other women and girls.