This section contains opinion pieces written by Global Judicial Integrity Network participants, who are members of judiciaries worldwide. The pieces focus on the personal opinions and experiences of these external experts on issues related to judicial integrity. All opinion pieces written in 2018-2019 have been compiled in one review journal, available here. To read a selection of the articles in other UN languages, please select the language from the navigation bar at the top of the page. Please click here for Portuguese and Korean.
Please note that all opinions expressed in this section of the website are the opinions of the authors, who are external experts, and do not necessarily reflect the official position of UNODC.
Fairy tales create strong associations and are reinforced by parental reassurance in the telling and by repeated retelling in films and fiction, which further reinforce these archetypes: goodies and baddies, brave princes and beautiful princesses, all strike powerful chords with us throughout our lives. It is no coincidence that multiple studies confirm the prevalence of strong associations between men and leadership roles, and women and nurturing roles.
We know that gender bias is a global problem. Judges have an important role in challenging the narrative that men were born to lead, women to care. Our defining role is to do justice. If the judiciary perpetuates the effects of withholding opportunity, limiting education and refusing support, then we are part of the problem. The essence of integrity includes diligence, honesty, and fairness. If we do not examine the factors that produce unfairness, there is a lack of diligence, perhaps even a dishonesty, in our wilful blindness. There are historical reasons for the gender pay gap, for the limited number of female applicants for prestigious roles, and for the continued failure of the judiciary to reflect the population over which we sit in judgment. Knowing those reasons, complacency moves towards complicity.
Historically, the legal profession was not considered suitable for women. As time progressed, so did women and today women enter this profession of choice. However, there are still not enough women in the judiciary and certainly not enough women in the superior judiciary. This paradigm must change. In the process of administration of justice and writing judgments, judges have an important role, as judicial decisions have a wide and deep impact on social constructs, social order and systematic inequalities that prevail in the system.
When judges interpret and implement the law, their reasons and opinions are a reflection of their thought process, an insight into their perceptions. These perceptions in the very least must be representative of both men and women on the bench so as to ensure a fair and adequate response through judicial decisions. It is important to note that including women in the judiciary is not simply about ensuring that her perception is relevant to resolving cases about women. It is much more than that. It is about integrating the gender perspective and giving equal visibility to women.
As I join in the observance of this special time set aside for the recognition of women judges, I am compelled to reflect on the journey of women judges in Jamaica, especially over the last 60 years of the country's independence from colonial rule. I have chosen to do so too against the background of the utterances of a senior male attorney-at-law, who, in or around the year 2000 - at the turn of the 21st century - remarked that women do not belong on the bench but rather at home in the kitchen. That comment evoked no response from me then because it was palpably clear that the speaker was stuck in the past with the backward perspective that rendered him utterly oblivious to the dawning of a new day for the judiciary of Jamaica. By then, more and more young women had started populating the bench in unprecedented numbers. I was one of them.
Diverse judiciaries produce better justice. Diversity enhances judicial thinking and perspective. Diverse judges alter the judicial discourse. Diversity and inclusivity permit interaction and discussion among colleagues who have different backgrounds, life experiences, and viewpoints. Diverse judges challenge and enhance one another's perspectives.
Inclusivity and diversity inspire and maintain public confidence in the judiciary. Public confidence is fragile. Diversity and inclusivity inspire confidence in the justice system by demonstrating a commitment to independence and impartiality. Representativeness and building trust in the judiciary is about ensuring that the public, including members of the society belonging to minority groups, see themselves reflected in the judiciary.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread detrimental effects on mental health and quality of life. It continues to deliver sudden change, uncertainty and stress. Individuals across the globe experienced considerable impacts on their lifestyles and well-being. Recent reports have suggested a rising mental health crisis with significant increase in several mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
The term well-being encompasses both personal wellness and professional wellness, including job satisfaction, engagement and reduced burnout. It is closely linked to quality of life as a broad term comprising domains of physical health, psychological state, social relationships and environment.