International Development Law Organization (IDLO)

First, IDLO is committed to eliminating gender-discriminatory laws, and promoting the adoption of gender-responsive ones.  We are also committed to ensuring that institutions are gender responsive as well. That is why we are very pleased to be a partner with UN Women in their strategy on Equality in Law for Women and Girls by 2030. Making institutions and laws work for women is part of  IDLO’s daily work. From Kenya to Tunisia, we are implementing constitutional and other legal reforms. As a rule of law organization, we  know that the law is not the full answer to filling  the gap in justice for women.  The law is a guide for policy makers, for judicial decisions and it is a very important marker for social behavior and that is why we think, this should be our first commitment.

Second, we are committed to preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Sexual and gender-based violence forms the largest component of IDLO’s gender program portfolio, from Afghanistan to Mongolia, from Honduras to Liberia.

Third, we commit ourselves to empowering women and girls as rights holders, focusing particularly on marginalized women and girls. As mentioned earlier, we work in some of the poorest, most deprived and insecure parts of the world. We are looking at diverse ways of reaching out to and empowering  the most marginalized women, including some innovative ways of bringing legal empowerment together with social accountability – again taking a holistic approach to law and a holistic approach to justice. For women, the line between legal justice and social justice is a very fine one and we should never forget that.

Fourth, we are committed to promoting women’s participation in the justice sector. Participation strengthens the agency of women as justice providers and it also strengthens the quality of justice that women receive. We found in our work that justice by women improves the justice that women receive. When there are women judges, women lawyers, and  women court officials, women who seek justice themselves feel empowered and much more comfortable. At the same time, women justice professionals can also understand the experiences of women better. There have been  ground-breaking decisions made by women judges like Navi Pillai and others, that have transformed the way in which criminal justice has been viewed for decades, even centuries, on issues such as rape.

Fifth, we commit to ensure justice for women through our engagement with customary and informal justice systems. The reality is that the majority of the world’s poor including the majority of women in that group access justice through these systems, but when they do that though, they come across bias, prejudice, and many other barriers. Ignoring the informal or customary systems of justice is, therefore, short sighted. We need to engage with them. We have found from our programs on the ground and  more than a decade of research that we have done in IDLO in this area, that there are opportunities, openings and entry points, through which progressive change can come by empowering the justice seekers, including women justice seekers. Last month, IDLO opened a global consultation on the issue of customary and informal justice, which we will carry out in different parts of the world with various stakeholders. I would like to invite you to a side event that we are organizing here, on the sidelines of the Commission on the Status for Women, because we want to hear women’s voices and make them a central part of our work to engage with these justice systems.

Finally, IDLO commits itself to advocate for the centrality of justice for women as an integral part of the 2030 Agenda. This is not in general, but in very specific terms.

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