“From women held without fair trial, to women toiling in their homes, in factories, in the fields, the gap between what women demand and need and what they receive is enormous,” remarked Ms. Irene Khan, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), during an event at the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) on March 13 in New York.
At a moment in history when women’s rights and gender equality are at a critical juncture, the High-level Group on Justice for Women (HLG) convened to discuss the top strategies and recommendations on how to strengthen access to justice for women, with a view to inspiring and accelerating action from leaders and States around the world towards the joint vision of Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 16.
Following its inaugural meeting in The Hague, the HLG - co-convened by UN Women, IDLO, the World Bank and the Task Force on Justice – undertook extensive research into the justice needs of women around the world, outlining the barriers, pathways and commitments needed in a report that will be released later in the month.
Members of the panel included Fernando Marani from the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the UN; Mette Gongrijp, Director of Social Development and Ambassador for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands; and His Excellency, Lang Yabou, Gambia’s Permanent Representative to the UN.
Panelists acknowledged that while justice for women is gaining more traction in the public eye, more remains to be done before countries achieve measurable gender equality.
“We see a lot of interest and knowledge around gender equality,” said Ms. Asa Regner, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women. “At the same time, as we see a lot of pushback and resistance – we have to navigate around that and always stand up for the mandate [and] find new ways of progressing the agenda in spite of this resistance.
Gender equality is not an abstract concept that demands innovative thinking. It is, and must be, a fundamental right by which societies are built and economies are made to thrive
Discriminatory social norms, compounded by many layers of intersectional disadvantages – due to poverty, ethnicity, disability, geography, occupational segregation, and migratory status – remain powerful obstacles to women’s access to justice. But research and expert opinion highlights that when women benefit from equal rights and gender equality across all sectors, economic growth soars and societies progress to their fullest potential.
“Gender equality is not an abstract concept that demands innovative thinking. It is, and must be, a fundamental right by which societies are built and economies are made to thrive,” said Ms. Sandie Okoro, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of the World Bank Group.
Transformative justice for women may seem utopian, but is within our reach if we work together
Ahead of the July 2019 review of SDG 16 to be held at the High-Level Political Forum, participants also reaffirmed the integral nature of justice for women. “If we want equal access to justice for all, why not start with justice for women,” stated Ms. Maaike de Langen, Head of Research at the Pathfinders’ Task Force on Justice, NYU-CIC.
Furthermore, the review of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 2020, 2025 and 2030 will present strategic opportunities for assessing progress made on the call to action made in the new report, in alignment with the internationally agreed commitments.
Beyond providing a wealth of knowledge, the research points to the vital need for collective action. “Transformative justice for women may seem utopian, but is within our reach if we work together,” concluded Ms. Khan. “Justice for women should never be a side note, a textbox or an add-on in any report. It should be central to the agenda, because women are central to the achievement of sustainable development for all.”
Photo: © Meredith Lawrence
Report: Executive Summary
Live stream: Facebook Live
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