Women and Justice in Africa

A transformative people-centered approach, Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) 2022 Side Event

August 26, 2022

Across Africa, UNDP is working with stakeholders at every level to promote gender-justice, establish mechanisms for redress, and formalize behavior change to empower women throughout the justice sector.

UNDP South Sudan

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

I am very pleased to be with you as part of this eighth gathering of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Let me first take a moment to thank my distinguished counterpart, Ms Miyazaki, for her remarks and for JICA’s enduring partnership with UNDP as we seek to expand justice and ensure equality for women everywhere.

Based on its many years of highly acclaimed legal technical assistance in Asia, I am particularly pleased to see that JICA is now strengthening its rule of law support in Africa. Building on today's opportunity, I look forward to further deepening our collaboration in this important area.

I am especially honored for this opportunity to address issues of such urgent significance to millions of women throughout Africa.

Because at this moment of profound crisis for both people and planet, new and evolving threats have eroded decades of progress on the rule of law, human rights, justice, and security. 

Few groups have been as acutely impacted as women and girls.

Crisis conditions disproportionately expose women and girls to discrimination – severely limiting opportunities for employment, access to justice, healthcare, and political representation.

And thanks in large part to JICA’s latest research, we also know that rule of law reforms in many African contexts remain fragile – leaving marginalized populations highly vulnerable to exclusion, discrimination, and extreme poverty.

To avoid such costly setbacks, we must scale up our efforts to bridge short-term recovery with long term transformation.

That means investments in community resilience, social justice, and participatory decision-making.

Such investments are at the heart of UNDP’s Rule of Law and Human Rights Global Programme, where we are demonstrating the moral imperative and practical effectiveness of a people-centered approach to development amid widespread challenges to equal justice.

Across the continent, UNDP is working with stakeholders at every level to promote gender-justice, establish mechanisms for redress, and formalize behavior change to empower women throughout the justice sector.

In Mozambique, we’re working with the National Training Center to address gender-based violence and HIV – an initiative you will hear more about from our panel.

In Malawi the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, supported the development of mobile justice court systems to fast-track prosecution of gender-based violence cases in hard-to-reach areas.

And in Central African Republic, UNDP is leading an interagency group of experts, working with national authorities to ensure accountability for perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence.

Still, transformational change demands a commitment to stay and deliver.

And so, with a long-term view towards expanding access to justice, ensuring legal equality, and achieving gender parity in judicial administration, UNDP has undertaken several key initiatives with partnerships in Africa and beyond.

First, UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy is an unprecedented commitment that places gender-justice at the center of development planning.

The recently launched strategy offers governments and civil society partners: Development approaches to preventing and responding to gender-based violence; strategies for driving public and private investment in gender equality; support for public institutions to deliver ‘new generation’ policies to diminish gender negative norms; and resources to empower grassroot networks of women for meaningful participation in political and legal processes.

Second, the UNDP and UN Women Gender Justice Platform, under the Global Programme for Rule of Law, is a one-of-a-kind space for collaboration in crisis settings.

Through knowledge sharing, digital transformation, and resource mobilization, the platform leverages the coordinated efforts of more than 20 partners ranging from international institutions, civil society organizations, and UN agencies to create innovative pathways for justice in even the most fragile and protracted crisis contexts.

Third, also in collaboration with UN Women, UNDP is developing a strategic regional research initiative focused on representation in national judiciary systems throughout Africa.

This effort – which we plan to release as a report in September - will analyze levels of access and participation, provide new insight into social barriers and systemic challenges, and ultimately provide a baseline for more effective locally targeted interventions.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, and colleagues…

Today, millions of the women and girls throughout Africa are facing an unprecedented combination of threats.

Their access to justice is closing. Their right to freedom is shrinking.

Gender equality and the rule of law are essential for sustainable peace and development and are at the core of the 2030 Agenda.

For these women and indeed for our collective future – we must move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention.

That means tackling vulnerability at its source, building resilience, and fundamentally strengthening the social contract between people and state.

As you can see, UNDP remains committed to achieving gender equality and advancing women´s participation through transformative changes today for a more sustainable tomorrow.

In this system-wide effort, each of us has a role to play and I look forward to all we can accomplish together.

Thank you.