Advancing Women in the Judiciary

High-level side event on the occasion of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

March 12, 2024

Women's leadership in justice is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNDP Photo

Your excellencies, esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Permanent Missions of the State of Qatar, Indonesia, The Kingdom of Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Türkiye for inviting me to this strategic session on advancing women in the judiciary. 

I am excited to hear the valuable insights shared by the upcoming panel of Judges on the steps being taken on gender inclusive judiciaries leading to transformative change for gender equality and development. 

As you know just last Saturday we celebrated International Day of Women Judges.

It is important to celebrate Women Judges and the real gains made for women and girls to demolish barriers, fight for their rights, dismantle stereotypes and drive progress towards a more just and equal world.

However, women and girls continue to face immense obstacles, including marginalization, injustice, discrimination and the effects of violence against women. 

Some places are witnessing a backslide from previously made gains, and the world is witnessing a worrying backlash against women’s rights.

And at the current global rate, legal equality is some three hundred years away.

We cannot wait that long.

As such, women remain underrepresented in the justice sector. Women's leadership in justice is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Gender Justice entails effective and inclusive rule of law systems and institutions to advance gender equality and the ability of women and girls to realize and claim their human rights on equal footing.

On 20 March as part of the Gender Justice Platform, UNDP and UN Women will launch a regional research case study titled, “Women in justice in Africa: A comparative study of women judges in 14 countries.” 

Let me share two key findings.

First, while Africa has the world’s largest number of women heading constitutional courts and acting as chief justices, women’s representation in justice across the continent remains low

Second, on average, 4 in 10 judges in Africa are women and representation across the continent ranges from 50 percent in Kenya, Lesotho and Zimbabwe to lower rates of representation at 18 percent in Burkina Faso and 22 percent in Sierra Leone.

The study asks the question, are we doing enough to support women’s leadership in the justice sector

We can - and need to - collectively do more.

UNDP is supporting countries to take action by expanding and reinforcing judiciaries and justice systems by developing gender-responsive legal frameworks.

For example, in the Republic of Iraq, UNDP is supporting a strategic outreach communication campaign on women leadership in justice with the Supreme Judicial Council and the Iraq Women Judges Association.  

Finally, I invite you all to join our event on 20 March and to consider UNDP your partner in this endeavor as we work together to pave the way for women to be equal partners in justice processes and responses. 

Ambassadors, esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate the 68th CSW, 

We need to ensure a positive impact on women’s qualitative and quantitative representation justice systems and in judiciaries

Many thanks for your attention and commitment to this vital cause.