Women’s Access to Justice
Women’s Access to Justice is a conceptual framework for providing women with laws and remedies to enforce their rights under national and international law.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) will remain merely an unenforceable promise, unless there are gender-responsive justice systems, and unless we address the biases in the justice chain and the long-standing gender discrimination in legal institutions.
However, a focus on policies and legislation alone is not enough to resolve these challenges. Women’s Access to Justice is about bringing about systematic change in legal frameworks hand-in-hand with change in social and cultural norms. Restrictive social norms often prevent women from utilizing available pathways to seek justice. Transformational change is called for: engaging entire communities to create an environment where women can seek remedies without fear of negative consequences. Furthermore, affordability and comprehensibility are fundamental to improving Women’s Access to Justice overall, and in particular for marginalized groups facing a host of intersecting factors – that is, members of indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ+ communities and others.
Justice for women goes beyond claiming individual rights. It is more encompassing, including women’s full participation in shaping systems and in creating social change to address global challenges. Women’s active participation is essential to solve current and future challenges, be it international negotiations on climate justice, addressing human rights issues, resolving the ethical dilemmas posed by technological progress or those relating to advances in behavioural science, or realizing the goal of poverty eradication, to name a few.
Enhancing Women’s Access to Justice in Asia and the Pacific: Bridging the gap between formal and informal systems through women’s empowerment
UN Women, in partnership with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is implementing a five-year programme, generously funded by the Government of Sweden, entitled “Enhancing Access to Justice for Women in Asia and the Pacific: Bridging the gap between formal and informal systems through women’s empowerment”. The project builds on the comparative advantages of the programme partners to address Women’s Access to Justice at international, regional, national and local levels.
The Women’s Access to Justice programme focuses on three output areas:
Strengthening the judiciary and other justice providers and
promoting CEDAW compliant legislation. Learn more
Supporting grassroots women’s organizations and gender-responsive
community-based justice mechanisms. Learn more
Supporting human rights defenders and improving access
to protection mechanisms. Learn more
The aim of the partnership is to strengthen the gender responsiveness of justice providers within the formal system and at the community level, while at the same time engaging women’s organizations, women human rights defenders and entire communities to change social norms and to create an enabling environment for women to realize their rights. Various programme activities bring together different target groups. They range from grassroots bottom-up initiatives, such as community dialogues on women’s rights, to regional and national dialogues with judges and members of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.
Thematic focus areas 2021
The following themes, interlinking the programme’s output areas, are central to our implementation activities in 2021 across the priority countries.
Read more about the initiatives under the thematic focus areas in our quarterly brief. Learn more