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IAWL Launches the M.A.L.E Allies Campaign-Working with Men to Achieve Generation Equality

IAWL Launches the M.A.L.E Allies Campaign-Working with Men to Achieve Generation Equality

#GenderSolidarity For immediate release April 12, 2021 Washington, DC, USA- The Institute for African Women in Law has launched a campaign dubbed M.A.L.E Allies (Men Advocates in Law for Equality). The campaign brings together men and women in conversation and the adoption of concrete actionable steps to promote gender equality. Rooted in African indigenous systems, the campaign builds on the idea that majority of precolonial traditional African systems were built on communality, consensus, and complementary gender roles. The MALE Campaign is rooted in the positive African indigenous systems of Ubuntu— (Nguni word for humanity) and Isokan—(Yoruba word for Unity). At IAWL, we believe that when women and men work in unity and solidarity, we can achieve gender equality. MA.L.E is our #GenderSolidarity campaign with the vision of igniting individual and organizational transformation towards achieving gender equality in the legal profession. Discussing the need for this partnership with men, Dr. J.Jarpa Dawuni, Executive Director of the Institute remarked: "Fighting for gender equality without including male allies is like driving a car on two wheels; you will probably make the journey, but at a slower pace, and a heavier burden to yourself. If men are part of the problem, they should be part of the solution." The campaign will work with national, regional and international partners, individuals, law firms, and other corporate organizations, with the goal of galvanizing men as partners and allies in the fight for gender equality. The campaign builds on existing actions such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, #5 for Gender Equality, and #16 on Peace, Justice and Inclusive Institutions, the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), UN Women's Generation Equality and HeforShe campaigns. Watch our promotional video: Visit the webpage and hear from some of our male allies. We invite individuals and organizations across the globe to Join the Movement!
Click here to become a M.A.L.E Ally

#GenderSolidarity-What is Male Allyship?

#GenderSolidarity-What is Male Allyship?

By Osai Ojigho Global Advisory Council-IAWL As a human rights activist and women's rights advocate, I believe that male allyship in the fight for women’s human rights is a crucial component for achieving gender equality. Male allies play a critical role in ensuring that the voices of women are heard. Male allies can do a lot in the fight for gender equality today by taking an active role in creating opportunities for women and girls in the spaces where they control. Male allies can use their male privilege to provide a safe environment for women and girls to speak. Male allies can ensure that other men and boys get an opportunity to address gender stereotypes that we all have against the ascension of women in leadership, in political life, public and social life. Male allies can do a lot more to fight against gender-based violence by speaking up against it, by ensuring that the voices of women, survivors, and victims are heard; by pushing for accountability and justice regardless of whoever is involved. When we say women's rights are human rights it also means that men have to acknowledge and recognize the contributions and achievements of women and girls and ensure that they’re actually taking steps to eradicate this and to break down the barriers that limit and prevent women from achieving their full potential. A male ally would only be a champion if they speak up, if they act, and if they ensure a safe environment for everyone especially women and girls.

Advancing Women’s Equality: The International Human Rights Law(yer) Imperative

Advancing Women’s Equality: The International Human Rights Law(yer) Imperative

By Prof. Obiora Chinedu Okafor York Research Chair in International and Transnational Legal Studies Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, CanadaUN Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity Do international human rights law(yers) have a duty and role to ensure that women’s equality matters? Does this sub-discipline have a duty and role in reversing here and now, as well as over the long duree, the discrimination, disadvantage and dispossession to which women the world over have long been subjected, including by various formations and matrices of (male) power, by various normative and institutional forces? Law, including international human rights law, has been well said to be “congealed politics” according to Thomas Franck and Mark Munansangu[i], with less shaky, less undefined, less unstable, and less malleable, parameters than the politics that shapes it and that it often encodes. Resort to law tends to signal a seriousness of intent at a level that politics does not always convey.[ii] Law is also a relatively more disciplined tradition within which more credible claims against the status quo can often be made.[iii] These are important reasons why departments of the law such as international human rights law have a crucial role in the struggle against gender inequality (especially as it relates to women), or to paraphrase Judith Butler, in the struggle against the apparently “ungrievable” character of the lives of vast populations of women around the world. These are also some of the reasons why international human rights lawyers bear an important duty, and are very well positioned, to play a significant role – within each of their abilities and capacities, and in tandem with a rich, experientially-derived and just praxis that is being driven by women themselves – in the struggle against a persistent and indefensible gender inequality that continues to dog state and society the world over. Thus, male international human rights lawyers also bear a duty to imagine, express and enact a praxis that is in solidarity with this struggle, in as much measure as they are able to, and with as much modesty as is required. For the struggle to render women’s lives much more grievable, far less unequal, much less violated, and fare more fulfilled than they have historically been, requires not just the enactment of a just international human rights law praxis, but its enactment in concert with the men who have tended to dominate the ranks of this sub-discipline. This effort to advance gender equality through the more concerted and effective deployment of international human rights law should be well within reach. For, that sub-discipline has long provided us with a repertoire of normative and institutional resources which can be usefully mobilized to enact such a just praxis. [i] “The New International Economic Order: International Law in the Making?,” UNITAR Policy and Efficacy Studies No. 6 (1982).
[ii] Beth Simmons, “International Law and State Behaviour: Commitment and Compliance in International Monetary Affairs” (2000) 94 The American Political Science Review 819-835.
[iii] Richard Falk, The Status of Law in International Society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).

A Ripple of Hope for Gender Equality: A Note From an Ally

A Ripple of Hope for Gender Equality: A Note From an Ally

I am a white male. I am a middle-aged lawyer who has been director of a state judicial ethics agency for many years. I hire and supervise staff, teach law students, appear regularly on legal education panels, and interact with all facets of the legal profession. I am an ally. I believe women’s rights are human rights. And I will fight for those rights. I choose to be associated, I choose to assist, I choose to listen and learn, I choose to bring more than just words to the table. I choose to bring actions. But, what can I really do? How can I turn being philosophically in agreement into some sort of action that is helpful? I always nodded in agreement when I listened to others discuss the difficulties women faced in the legal workplace. Surely, I could do more than just be a “good guy” and agree in principle. I knew I did not want to act like I fully understood what female lawyers and judges have had to face just to be in the profession. Like many men, I was unaware of some problems. I helped as much as I knew how, but certainly missed opportunities for positive change that I just never noticed. As years have gone by, I have had the time to reflect. I have listened and learned from my female colleagues. I have witnessed misogyny and inequality in forums that are supposed to be the hallmarks of respect and fairness. These incidents occurred in the past 10 years. Then in the wake of the #MeToo movement, I was asked to present about sexual misconduct in the judicial workplace. As a judicial conduct commission attorney, I had worked on three noteworthy cases where judges had been removed from office because of sexual harassment or misconduct. The judicial workplace can be a very secretive environment. That has afforded nefarious judges the opportunity to hide sexual misconduct. The cases out of Arkansas shined a light into some of the worst examples of judicial behavior with staff and defendants. All three of the judges we confronted were permanently banned from the bench. I was asked to join a panel of distinguished attorneys and present on the subject. It is a strange thing to be the only man in a conference room full of women. The panel I was speaking on that day was entitled #WeToo, and it was focused on sexual harassment and misconduct in the judicial and legal workplace. The panel was part of the keynote message for the National Association of Women Judges 2018 annual meeting in conjunction with the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. I have heard men speak out about being afraid to join the discussion on gender equality. They worry that they will “say something wrong” or somehow not be welcomed. The opposite is true. Not only have I been welcomed, but I have also been able to learn how to identify insidious and harmful actions towards women easier than I did before. Since then, I have worked on a gender equality policy paper, spoken on panels and published articles in my role as an ally. Becoming an ally is simple. Start by standing up for equality. Allied men should make it obvious that we are on the side of equal rights for women. Just openly identifying as a supporter can have an effect. As Robert F. Kennedy stated, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope…”[1] Men in the legal profession who interact, hire, work for, teach with, appear in front of and otherwise communicate with women can make an impact in everyday decisions. Remember these simple principles: Equality is a cornerstone principle for a free society. Gender equality among judges and lawyers is necessary to foster credibility and gain the confidence of the public. Inclusion of women as speakers, teachers, in leadership roles, and on decision making bodies should be a top priority. The lack of inclusion hurts the legal profession and sends a terrible message to our female colleagues. Inclusion requires knowledge and sensitivity. It is the responsibility of the old power structure to listen and care about the experience of women in the legal workplace. Also, remember that the experience of women of color may differ from the experiences of women in general.[2] Then, male allies must take their beliefs and put them into action. Need ideas? Here are a few things we can do that promote gender equality: Choose to be on teaching panels that include female co-panelists. When asked to speak, find out about the gender diversity of the program before you accept. Openly request and support female attorneys for commission appointments, accolades, bar association leadership positions and teaching opportunities. Invite female law students, clerks, and young attorneys into the decision-making room. It is a place where they have been historically excluded. Allow them to see and hear the process as they effectively prepare for greater leadership roles. Speak up on social media. For example, post and promote International Women’s Day. Wear a yellow rose on Women’s Equality Day (read the story of Rep. Harry T. Burn from Tennessee). Realize that symbolic speech matters. Use all platforms to identify yourself with the struggle for equality. Champion women for appointments and as candidates for election to the bench. It is important to all of us to have broader representation in our courts. Women of color need white male and white female champions. They have faced greater gaps in achieving these opportunities. Find ways to address the unique issues that women of color have faced trying to advance in law firms and the bench. Read updated studies such as Left Out and Left Behind – The Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women of Color[3]. The culture of the profession held back women of color in ways that other women have not experienced. As Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby said, “[d]iversity of the bench means that there is a collaboration of minds with different voices, different perspectives, different experiences working together to solve problems.” Without diversity, a single point of view will prevail. And with merely a single way of thinking, inevitably, too much will be missed.[4] There are many other examples. Let’s agree to add to this list. I did not get a degree in gender studies. I do not understand the depth of difficulty that women face in my own profession. But I am working to make it better. I help make room for women in the workplace. I give them opportunities to get experience. I get out of their way when I am not needed. I am grateful to be included in the work to be done. I am an ally. [1] Robert F. Kennedy, Speech, South Africa University of Cape Town on June 6, 1966.
[2] Destiny Peery, Paulette Brown and Eileen Letts, Left Out and Left Behind – The Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long-Term Legal Careers for Women of Color (2020), American Bar Association.
[3] Id.
[4] Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, 2016, Jane Cleo Marshall Lecture, University of Michigan School of Law (Nov. 4, 2016).

Covid-19 In Ghana: Failure of Laws for an Inclusive Agenda

Covid-19 In Ghana: Failure of Laws for an Inclusive Agenda

By Bashiratu Kamal Gender & Labour Specialist. Accra, Ghana. Cases of COVID-19 were recorded in 2019 and spread rapidly to all parts of the world, with Ghana recording its first case in March 2020. In Ghana, the pandemic has had ravaging effects on our economic, social, and political lives with numbers spiraling to 89,682 cases, 725 deaths, and 85,761 recoveries as of March 2021. To contain the pandemic, the Government of Ghana put in several responsive measures, including school closures, a ban on social gathering, partial lockdowns, and passage of the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012). The measures and interventions are not gender responsive and fail to extend adequate protection to women, who have lost jobs having to choose between unpaid care work or building a career. According to a World Bank report, about 25% of the total workforce had their wages reduced with several others being laid off. The effect of this was more telling for women who are the most affected. Similarly, the cuts in foreign aid by governments like the United Kingdom resulted in the halting of several support services provided by some civil society organizations (CSOs). Meanwhile, the United Nations in Ghana had warned that women and girls may be at a higher risk of experiencing intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the households during the pandemic. For this reason, one would have expected the government to be more inclusive in responding to the pandemic to avert the several discriminatory practices and breaching marginalized groups’ rights. The Commonwealth Foundation’s virtual event series Critical Conversations also noted how the pandemic “has exposed weaknesses in governance” calling for incorporation of gendered analysis in interventions. In the face of the pandemic, Ghana has recorded an upsurge in domestic violence cases, failing to honor its commitments towards ensuring non-violence and discrimination in the United Nations Periodic Review recommendations for the “promotion and protection of Human Rights.” These include a pledge in recommendation 146.62 to "[c]ontinue promoting gender equality through specific laws, plans and programs.” Further, article 12 clause 2 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana also enjoins the guaranteeing of the “fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individuals” devoid of gender, race etc. Despite these legally guaranteed protections, Ghana has failed to maintain human rights and gender equality. Unresponsive interventions; a bane for women The swift response by the government of Ghana after the pandemic hit Ghana left women more vulnerable than before with the closure of schools and businesses. According to available data on the UNDP COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, several African countries were proactive in integrating gender into their pandemic responses while others like Ghana failed woefully in putting creative measures that bridge the inequality gap. These failures include the absence of adequate shelters for victims of abuse during the lockdown. Partial Lockdowns As part of responsive mechanisms, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Restriction Act, 2020 (Act1012). According to Section 3(2) of the Act, the imposition of restriction shall be reasonably justifiable and may not exceed three months. Act 1012 gave the President power to grant exemptions in restriction at any point in time. Nevertheless, as countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa granted exemptions and the free movements of certain CSOs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide support services to victims of domestic violence, Ghana was flooded with the news of harassment of market women by some security personals. Similarly, providers of critical sexual and reproductive health services were closed to the disadvantage of beneficiaries according to international reproductive health NGO Marie Stopes, which called on the government to improve access to contraception. Hotline for Victims of Domestic Violence The UNFPA in partnership with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection provided toll-free hotlines for victims of abuse to reach out during the lockdown and beyond. Sadly, this was not complimented with the provision of shelters like in South Africa and activation of the Domestic Violence fund. Several years after passing the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732) and its associated Domestic Violence LI, 2016 (LI 2237), the DV coalition, expressed disappointment about the ineffectiveness of the Legislations due to the lack of commitment and resources on the part of government. Way forward The government of Ghana must integrate gender into existing responses and be deliberate and committed to ensuring that future interventions during emergencies are responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups. It is important to make the cumbersome bureaucratic processes flexible for vulnerable groups in applying for the stimulus package. Finally, the government must activate the DV Fund established by the Legislative Instrument as a responsive mechanism. Conclusion As issues of “differentiated needs” arises according to the Commonwealth Foundation in responding to the pandemic, we must prioritize the needs of marginalized groups. As the Critical Conversations continue, it will help in shaping future responses to pandemics in promoting and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups while ensuring the impact of poverty is mitigated to guarantee equality and justice. Subsequently, as Fatmata Sorie has noted, “we need to bring women on board in developing policies around COVID-19 to make it gender responsive.”

Be-in-the-Know! Gender Scorecard @ the ECOWAS Court of Justice

Be-in-the-Know! Gender Scorecard @ the ECOWAS Court of Justice

A New Dawn: Gender Diversity and the International Criminal Court.

A New Dawn: Gender Diversity and the International Criminal Court.

Washington, DC, March 11, 2021 - The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) congratulates the newly sworn in judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The judges are: Ms. Joanna Korner (United Kingdom), Mr. Gocha Lordkipanidze (Georgia), Ms. María del Socorro Flores Liera (Mexico), Mr. Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez (Costa Rica), Ms. Miatta Maria Samba (Sierra Leone), and Ms. Althea Violet Alexis-Windsor (Trinidad and Tobago). We wish to extend a special congratulations to Ms. Miatta Samba, who's electoral outcome makes her the eighth woman from the continent of Africa to serve on the bench of the ICC. Judge Samba’s election is reminiscent of the recent re-election of Judge Julia Sebutinde to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as they both signal a big victory for gender diversity in international courts and tribunals. Judge Samba’s successful election further represents a victory for women legal professionals across the continent of Africa who are increasingly demonstrating their leadership acumen at both domestic and international courts. Out of the five candidates presented by the Africa group of States, Judge Samba was the only female candidate. She was elected to the ICC bench during the third round of voting, with a two-thirds majority vote of 83. Per Article 36 of the Rome Statute, she was nominated in category A (for candidates with expertise in criminal law and procedure), following the domestic nomination processes put in place by the government of Sierra Leone. IAWL commends the ICC on its election of four new female judges, and the subsequent increase in female representation on the bench. Prior to last year’s elections, the bench consisted of 12 male judges and 6 female judges. However, with this new cohort of judges, the bench will consist of 9 men and 9 women, raising its gender composition to a 50:50 ratio! These are impressive strides taken for a Court that already did well in terms of gender representation; out of the 47 judges they have had since its founding, 20 have been women. The ICC’s commitment to gender diversity is not only evident in the gender composition on its bench, but in its recruitment of a Focal Point for Gender Equality, an establishment in the Court which will assist the court's leadership in their efforts to tackle gender-related issues and strengthen the court’s gender-related policies. IAWL commends the ICC for its commitment to gender diversity. Nonetheless, we encourage the court to continue seeking justice for the marginalized by keeping up its efforts to tackle gender-based violence. The Statute of the ICC was the first international instrument to consider sexual and gender-based violence a war crime, and crime against humanity. The ICC has since convicted rape as a war crime, and has launched its Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes, as well as its Policy Paper on Children. As an organization, IAWL is dedicated to using the law for positive societal change and development. We believe the ICC is a key player in tackling gender-based violence globally, and we encourage their efforts.

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African Women in Law and Leadership

African Women in Law and Leadership

Do you need a word for your leadership journey? Look no further! These outstanding African women leaders in law have the right words for you. Follow our social media pages for more inspiring content.

Spotlight on Women in Leadership: Justice Georgina Theodora Wood

Spotlight on Women in Leadership: Justice Georgina Theodora Wood

In 2007, Lady Justice Georgina Theodora Wood made history as the first woman to be appointed as Chief Justice in Ghana. Her pioneer role also made her the longest serving Chief Justice in the history of Ghana. Justice Wood retired from the bench in 2017. Her time in office led to the growth and development of Ghana's judiciary. Her international engagements paved the way for strengthening the judiciary through training, partnerships and the introduction of new modes of adjudication, such as the court-connected alternative dispute resolution (ADR). We celebrate the leadership of Justice Georgina Theodora Wood. Learn about her journey in her pioneer woman profile available HERE.

Be-in-the-know! Gender  @ The East African Court of Justice

Be-in-the-know! Gender @ The East African Court of Justice

Join us @ the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession

Join us @ the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession

The Institute for African Women in Law, in collaboration with the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession, presents a discussion on the findings from the IAWL Flagship Report "Unveiling Subalternity: Women and the Legal Professions in Africa." Join us for an interesting discussion on our ongoing research on women in law in Africa. Date: Thursday, March 11, 2021 Time:11am-12pm US/ET || 7pm Nairobi || 5pm Lagos || 6pm J'Burg Pre-register: http://bit.ly/30gSiab We look forward to seeing you! You can download the full report .