Commission on the Status of Women Reflection – Victoria Cammell

3 May 2021

Commission on the Status of Women Reflection – Victoria Cammell

It was such a privilege to participate in the Commission on the Status of Women as an UNANZ delegate. As a student of international law and previously international relations, taking part in such an event was nothing short of a dream come true. Though it involved some very early mornings it was incredibly motivating to watch a number of General Discussion sessions and participate in many NGO-led zoom sessions. 

To my surprise I found the NGO-led sessions to be the highlight of the event. My interests lie in the relationship between the law and gender-equality, particularly with regard to protection against gender-based violence. As such, some of the most interesting sessions I took part in were hosted by the International Development Law Association and UN Women on issues of gender justice and the law. 

I believe that the law is a powerful tool for change and it was inspiring to be part of a community who are engaged in the intricacies of its utilisation. Some of the most notable discussion points that I took from these sessions included:

  • The need for data collection. This data should be both qualitative and quantitative to fully understand the experiences of women. Data enables us to see what the state of affairs is and identify what initiatives are working. 
  • The need for women’s representation within the judiciary. There is a need for a shift to occur in the way that we appoint judges, whereby diversity is seen as an element of merit.
  • The need to train women in the law to ensure that there is a cohort of women that can be on judiciaries. 
  • The need for partnership with men and boys. 
  • The challenging relationship between customs and traditions and law. This is particularly relevant to the issue of violence against women, whereby local customs and traditions mean that laws on paper may not been implemented in practice.

It was incredibly interesting to hear discussion on the points listed above, among others, by those from so many different backgrounds and cultural perspectives. It is also encouraging to see that many of these points are reflected in the conclusions that were produced by the Commission. Most notably encompassing the relationship between gender and the law conclusion (23) states that the Commission: 

“It expresses deep concern that women and girls may be particularly vulnerable to violence because of ... limited or lack of access to justice [and] effective legal remedies and services, including protection, rehabilitation [and] reintegration.” 

More specifically, conclusion (18) refers to the need for women to be represented in the judiciary, stating:

“The Commission also emphasizes that the full and equal representation of women and men at all levels of decision-making in executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and the public sector and in all spheres of life is needed…”

Finally, recommendation (tt) speaks to the need for partnership with men and boys, stating the need to:

“Fully engage men and boys as agents and beneficiaries of change, and as strategic partners and allies”

It is suffice to say that I am enthusiastic about the conclusions that were written at the end of the Commission on the Status of Women. They offer a substantive basis to promote the participation of women in the judiciary and the need for changes in the law to protect women from violence. It is now the time for these conclusions and recommendations to be enacted into policies and changes and I am hopeful that the conversations that were started at the Commission will continue on into the future.

quote mark