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IAWJ members spoke on two panels as part of the World Bank's Law, Justice and Development Week

Nancy Hendry & Nephtaly Pierre-Louis | Published on 11/30/2023

Two IAWJ members, Hon. Maria Filomena Singh, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and Hon. Vera Nkwate Ngasa, Justice, Supreme Court of Cameroon, provided thoughtful and eloquent contributions to two panels as part of the World Bank's Law, Justice and Development Week 2023 program, held in Washington, DC on November 13-15.

The panel on "Role of Gender in the Judiciary" delved into the crucial relationship between gender and the judiciary, shedding light on its impact on gender equality, women's empowerment, and access to justice —integral components of sustainable development. Panelists discussed the challenges that continue to hamper progress in these areas, including: discriminatory legal frameworks; persistent gender bias that creates cultural barriers even in the face of gender-neutral laws; and the institutional, social, geographic, and informational barriers women confront in seeking access to justice.


They shared examples of the strategies judiciaries have employed to address these challenges and sensitize justice sector personnel to gender issues, including promoting gender parity at all levels of the judiciary. Hon. Vera Ngassa highlighted the lasting impact of the IAWJ Global Leadership of Women (GLOW) program in changing the response to gender-based violence in Cameroon by creating victim-sensitive courts, developing a Victim Friendly Manual for judges, and providing comprehensive victim-sensitivity training for police, social workers, and medical officers.

The second panel, titled "Judges' Perspectives," featured eight prominent judges from diverse jurisdictions, including Justices Singh and Ngassa, and explored the vital role of the rule of law, particularly judicial independence, in securing sustainable development on a livable planet. The panelists reflected upon the proper role of the judiciary in the development process, shared their insights into how courts balance development considerations with other concerns that guide judicial decision-making, and offered recommendations for how judiciaries can address access to justice issues and work with development partners to foster efficiency and integrity of the courts, including by strengthening formal and informal dispute-resolution processes.