7 May 2018 - Women's access to justice received critical attention as an important pathway for achieving gender equality and women's empowerment at the just-ended High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace and the earlier sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW'62). At the latter, UNODC, UN Women, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) launched a jointly produced 'Practitioner's Toolkit on Women's Access to Justice Programming', which aims to address gender-based discrimination in justice delivery through the systematic integration of the rights and needs of women and girls.
This online launch of the Toolkit takes place at a time when an estimated four billion people are excluded from the benefits of the rule of law, and over 150 countries have at least one law that discriminates against women. Justice is the forum through which such discrimination can be countered. When functioning properly, justice systems enable women and girls to demand and realize their rights.
Speaking about the Toolkit, Valerie Lebaux, Chief of UNODC's Justice Section, said: "Our experience confirms that promoting women's access to justice is critical to achieving gender equality."
"UNODC's work to promote criminal justice responses to violence against women and to improve the situation of women offenders and prisoners complements broader efforts of partners and contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goals 5 and 16," Ms. Lebaux added.
Access to justice is a powerful tool for challenging discrimination, enforcing rights and transforming lives. Yet all around the world, women and girls do not have access to the justice they are due, especially when circumstances such as age, marital status, disability, race, ethnicity, migration status, poverty, geographic location, HIV and sexual orientation and gender identity status intersect.
The Practitioner's Toolkit on Women's Access to Justice Programming speaks to several of women's circumstances. It highlights how the United Nations Development Group's programming principles - leave no one behind; human rights, gender equality and women's empowerment; sustainability and resilience; accountability; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and general recommendations of human rights treaty bodies - can be used to address gender discrimination in justice delivery at all levels.
The Toolkit is the first dedicated resource on women's access to justice for the United Nations system and was launched by Nicole Ameline, a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) at CSW'62. It provides practical guidance for integrating gender into each stage of the justice chain, with concrete programming considerations through five Modules which encompass: theory and practice; marriage, family and property rights; violence against women; women in conflict with the law; and programming at the country level.
The toolkit can be downloaded here.