The Under-representation of Women in International Justice

Last March, the Commission on the Status of Women celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action, one of the most progressive plans to date for achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, efforts to mark this occasion were both delayed and subverted by a global pandemic that accelerated rates of gender-based violence as well as female impoverishment. 

Gender parity can enhance the legitimacy of judicial institutions, increase opportunities for women and improve justice outcomes. Unfortunately, there is a severe under-representation of women serving in international, regional and hybrid judicial mechanisms and monitoring bodies. In these bodies, women in decision-making positions rarely even constitute the UN-endorsed “critical mass” (30%), let alone gender parity, needed to effect change.

In a sober look at both gains and future challenges, WFM/IGP and the Institute for African Women in Law will host a panel examining the under-representation of women in international justice, including the impacts of the pandemic on their participation. The discussion will highlight the need for gender parity in judicial mechanisms given the important role that women have played and continue to play in creating, implementing and effectively enforcing laws, policies and programs focused on international justice.