On the occasion of the first ever International Day of Women Judges on 10 March 2022, the members of the Advisory Board of the Global Judicial Integrity Network would like to share with the Network's audience their views on the importance of this International Day and the role of women judges in strengthening the judiciary and judicial integrity. The Advisory Board members invite all participants of the Network to join them in celebrating this International Day and reflecting on the ways to promote the full and equal participation of women at all levels of the judiciary.
Interpretation of the law and notions of justice are often influenced by the lens through which law and justice are viewed. Diversity on the Bench is critical. It is therefore wonderful that a special day has been set aside to honour the tremendous contribution women have made and continue to make as judges. On this first commemoration of the International Day of Women Judges we salute and express our solidarity with all women judges, and especially those who served in Afghanistan.
The rule of law advances peace and counters the rule of might, which is self-serving and does not respect the rights of others. The International Day of Women Judges recognizes the leadership of women judges in promoting the rule of law and equality and encourages women and girls to contribute their talents in their countries and to the international community. It also commits to national strategies that overcome obstacles to the inclusion of women at all levels, including the highest courts and policy-making bodies of the judiciary. This is a day of celebration not only for women but for all who are committed to the rule of law, equality and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
The motto of the International Association of Women Judges is “advancing human rights and justice for all”. Nothing is truer than this statement when we look at what women judges all over the world have brought to the promotion of the rule of law and the sense of equity in the justice system. This is an opportunity to congratulate you on this day, and to praise the United Nations because they recognized the importance of equity in justice systems all over the world. This will be achieved only when women judges will stay equally shoulder to shoulder with their male colleagues.
The plurality of thoughts, orientations and ideas is the cornerstone of a real democracy. Therefore, encouraging female representation within the judiciary is not only the first step towards substantial equality, whether within the judiciary or in other areas of power, but also an imposed instrument for strengthening the judiciary itself and the democracy for generations to come.
One of the ways in which judicial independence is eroded is by subjecting judges and prosecutors to the influence and pressure of corruption or the relentless grip of organized crime. Justice is the main weapon a civilized society has to confront corruption, and international judicial cooperation is also key to defeat corruption. My tribute to all the judges who are courageously and wisely confronting the sinister arm of corruption in different countries in the world.
Recent fragile advances in gender equality have paradoxically made it difficult to call out existing inequities in women’s representation in the workplace. The struggle for equality has not been won and daily battles must continue to be fought since women’s empowerment and gender equality play a critical role in eliminating inequality, injustice and violence that impact our daily lives. The female perspective complements that of their male counterpart and ensures the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
The under-representation of women in judicial office has led to calls for greater female representation based on an argument that women offer a different voice from that of men. This argument has largely foundered, and a more recent rationale rests on the need for diversity in the judiciary. However, the disadvantage experienced by women applicants to judicial office is rooted in deeply entrenched structural discrimination and exclusion, imbricated in the constitution of the judicial authorities in some parts of our world. We should never restrain the efforts to prove the otherwise. For sure, the Judiciary of the State of Qatar is a frontrunner with a decisive determination in this direction.
We need to recognize that women judges are women of their time, with all the related obstacles, sacrifices, compromises and also persistence and determination. All of these inform and illuminate women judges’ perspectives and ability to carry out effectively their judicial functions. On this International Day of Women Judges, these important contributions of women judges should be praised.
On this Day dedicated to Women Judges, our thoughts must necessarily be on those women learned in the law who are either prevented from serving, or are being victimized for having served, as judges in countries that still do not accept or recognize the concept of equality. Equally, our thoughts must also extend to women who are denied equal access to justice owing to their religious or other beliefs or due to discriminatory national legislation, and to women who are denied equal treatment in national courts due to the insensitivities of male actors.
Considering the nature and nuances of the issues and disputes thrown up by modern times, gender representation and the role of women judges is more than just a matter of fairness to a segment of society, it is integral to the quality of the justice dispensed by the justice system. Judiciaries deprived of an appropriate number of women judges deprive citizens of the standard of justice they deserve.
Women as members of the judiciary make a difference. Their faces reflect the communities they serve. Female lawyers, litigants, jurors and witnesses can see themselves represented. This is critical to public trust and confidence in the judiciary. While the legal reasoning of male and female judges is the same, women judges contribute perspectives developed through their life experiences to support and encourage reform of the law in areas where the law has been based on inaccurate and outdated assumptions and stereotypes respecting women.
As President of the International Association of Judges, I took the opportunity, in my very first statement, to define gender equality and parity within the judiciary as a priority for my mandate, dedicating, symbolically, the election to the Afghan women judges. On the International Day of Women Judges, under the auspices of the Global Judicial Integrity Network, this is the right moment to reaffirm our commitment and to call on all judicial authorities to rise to this imperative challenge.