African Court issues its first judgment on women’s rights

On 11 May 2018, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a landmark judgment in the case APDF and IHRDA versus the Republic of Mali. For the first time in its history, the Court found a violation of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. The Court held that Malian Family Code violates women’s rights as recognized under international law, and condemned the State of Mali to modify its legislation.

Two civil society organisations had lodged a complaint before the African Court in September 2016 alleging that the Malian Family code adopted in 2011 is not compatible with the State’s obligations under international law. The Court therefore proceeded to examine if the code was in conformity with human rights instruments Mali had ratified, and found that several provisions of this code are not.

The Malian Family Code permits marriage for girls from the age of 16-years. In specific circumstances, the minimum age for marriage for girls may be lowered to 15-years. Consent is not always a requirement for a marriage to be valid. The African Court found that the relevant provisions of the Family Code are blatant violations of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) under which the minimum age for marriage is 18 years for both women and men. The Maputo Protocol also provides that free and full consent in marriage must be protected by law. In matters of inheritance, Islamic law and customary practice is the applicable regime by default in Mali. This means that women only receive half of what men receive and children born out of wedlock receive inheritance only when their parents so decide. In relation to this issue, the African Court emphasized that women and natural children should be entitled to inheritance by law, and as such, the Family Code should not allow the application of rules contrary to this principle. The Court held that the relevant provisions of the Malian Family Code are discriminatory and perpetuate practices or traditions harmful towards women and children, in violation of the Maputo Protocol, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The political context in which the Malian Family Code was adopted, characterized by vigorous opposition by religious movements to a more progressive legislation, was at the heart of the arguments put forward by the State of Mali in its defence. But to the African Court, this was no good excuse for passing a law contradictory to its international obligations. It thus ordered Mali to modify its legislation as well as to take measures to inform, teach, educate and sensitize the population on the rights of women, and to report to the Court on the implementation of the judgement within a period of two years. Continue reading

Advertisements

More Than Fair: GQUAL Campaign Mobilizes Law to Change Picture of International Justice

Globally, women occupy only 33% of the 599 seats found on the 91 adjudicatory bodies of international law. But when one excludes the committees and working groups on the rights of women and children, that number drops to 24% of the remaining 533 seats. Only one woman sits on each of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the appellate body of the World Trade Organization, and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The paucity of women on international bodies reveals a gross imbalance of power that tips against a community that makes up roughly half the world’s population.

During the first week of October, ambassadors, legal experts, practitioners, and activists from around the world gathered in The Hague to strategize changing this male-dominated picture of international justice during the GQUAL Campaign’s international conference marking its second anniversary. The Action Plan adopted at the conference begins with an important reminder that achieving gender equality on international bodies is not solely a policy of fairness and institutional legitimacy but an action mandated by law. Together with the International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, GQUAL released at the conference a working paper that identifies the international legal basis for the Campaign’s aim of realizing gender parity.

States establish the nominating and voting procedures that apply to any particular international body, making them ultimately responsible for this state of affairs. Though political will is needed to remedy the stark and pervasive gender imbalance on international bodies, reform should be guided by international law and State practice, both of which support the fair representation of women in global governance.

The positive obligation to eliminate sex-based discrimination is deeply rooted and widely reflected in international human rights law. Numerous instruments, most notably the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, not only prohibit States from adopting discriminatory laws but also require that States work to dismantle obstacles that result in discriminatory outcomes for women. The working paper looks beyond CEDAW for additional support to further strengthen the legal foundation of the GQUAL Campaign.

We identified several human rights treaties and policy statements that embody the non-discrimination principle and which enumerate three international human rights norms that require gender equality within different contexts relevant to the GQUAL Campaign—the right of access to decision-making within public bodies; the right of access to equal opportunity in employment; and the right of access to justice. In short, women on equal terms with men, are entitled to shape our governments, to employment that reflects our capabilities, and to the protection, recognition, and advancement of international law. Continue reading

Write On! The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstrual Studies

backlit_keyboardThis installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes a call for suggestions as follows:

The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstrual Studies, is an ambitious endeavor undertaken by Chris Bobel, Breanne Fahs and Katie Ann Hanson, among others in the United States. The focus is to “establish[] a field of ‘critical menstrual studies’ as a coherent and multi-dimensional transdisciplinary subject of inquiry and advocacy.” Suggestions for chapters by potential authors and other possible lines of inquiry are welcomed and encouraged. Deadline is June 20, 2017.


On the Job! Gender Project Consultant in NYC; Clinical Fellow @ Duke Law

On the Job! compiles interesting vacancy notices, as follows:

logoThe Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. Applications are welcome from Ph.Ds, Ph.D candidates or other advanced research training in fields such as gender, human right, humanitarian assistance or education for the position of GCPEA Gender Project Consultant.  The holder of this position will conduct research and develop gender-specific recommendations on protecting girls and women from attacks on education and military use of educational institutions. They will work approximately 65 days between April and November 2017, presenting research to the GC{EAGender Project Working Group and external reviewers. Applications will be reviewed as received until the position is filled; details here.

download► Duke University Law School. Applications are welcome from individuals with 2-5 years experience with international human rights for a supervising attorney/clinical fellow to join the international human rights program and clinic beginning in Summer 2017, led by Professor Jayne Huckerby. The holder of this position will primarily help supervise student fieldwork in Clinic projects and participate in the planning and teaching of the Clinic advocacy seminar, among other opportunities, supervised by the Director of the International Human Rights Clinic. Deadline is April 16, 2017; details here. 

#WomensMarch the Netherlands 2.0

Pic3-MamaCash

(Photo credit: MamaCash)

This weekend, around 20,000 people gathered in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, for a second Women’s March this year, this time specifically directed at Dutch politics. With the much-anticipated (for better or worse) parliamentary elections in The Netherlands only a few days away (15 March), it was a moment for many to show their support for the world-wide movement calling for equality, inclusivity, and tolerance, raising their voices against the rise of right-wing populism fuelled by fear and hatred all over Europe and elsewhere in the world. People from all ages, genders, and backgrounds marched together from Damplein to Museumplein in a sea of orange and other colours in a spirit of comradery. Beyond a call for inclusivity and equality for all in all aspects of life, the March was also an attempt to underscore the importance of the upcoming elections, and the power we have as citizens to change the negative tide that seems to be washing over Europe. Now more than ever it is our responsibility to change these dynamics and vote against hate.

This Women’s March on Amsterdam followed in the footsteps of the Women’s March on Washington on 21 January 2017, the largest protest in US history. Hundreds of Sister Marches were organised around the world, with an estimated total number of 5 million people marching. Amsterdam’s Sister March in January drew approximately 3,000 people to the Museumplein. This time again, there were many incredibly creative signs, some specifically directed at Dutch politics, in particular Geert Wilders and his so-called Party for Freedom, others referencing broader messages of equality and justice. Like at the Women’s March on Washington, a group of women also performed MILCK’s powerful song I Can’t Keep Quiet along the route.

IMG_2511.jpg

(Photo credit: Women’s March Netherlands)

Speakers and performers before and after the March included Marjan Sax – long-time feminist advocate and founder of several feminist organisations, transactivist VreerDevika Partiman – founder of StemOpEenVrouw, Petra Benach – main organiser of the Women’s March Netherlands, and spoken word artist Babs Gons, with Anousha Nzume as MC. What I appreciated in particular was not just the broad demographic participating – from grandparents to grandchildren and everything in between – but equally the attempts made by the March organisers, as with the Women’s March on Washington, regarding inclusivity. Repeatedly calls were made during the various speeches to remember and honour those who could not, for whatever reason, join the march (such as the undocumented for fear of being arrested), and particular attention was given to those with disabilities, including an interpreter for the deaf on stage.

Pic4-MamaCash.jpg

(Photo credit: MamaCash)

But the March aimed at more than raising our voices for justice and equality for all. It was a call to action to the citizens of the Netherlands to vote with their conscience on Wednesday. To vote against hate and for greater diversity, because as one of the signs said “Diversity is our Strength”.

White men have dominated Dutch politics for far too long, and this problematic reality hit us again during the Party Leaders Debate on 12 March, with the party leaders of the eight biggest parties leading the polls (minus Geert Wilders of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (‘Party for Freedom’) who declined, as per usual, to participate in this debate). Of these eight parties, only one is headed by a woman (Marianne Thieme of the Partij voor de Dieren, ‘Party for the Animals’). During the 12 March debate, as the only female partly leader, she was asked “Of your fellow party-leaders, who do you think is cutest?” It was the most important televised political debate this year. Of course this question wasn’t posed to her male colleagues. Sexism to the fore, yet again! And are we surprised? Of all 28 parties participating in the elections, only three are headed by women, and two have no woman on their list at all (the one-member party Vrije Democratische Partij, not currently represented in Parliament, and the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, with currently 3 seats in Parliament). At the moment, only 57 of 150 Dutch Parliamentarians (38%) is female, and if we are to believe the polls, it seems likely that this number will only go down rather than up after the Wednesday elections.

To increase the number of women in politics, a new initiative has emerged called “Stem Op Een Vrouw” (Vote For A Woman). Perhaps symbolically, 2017 also marks 100 years since women in The Netherlands gained the right to be elected to public office (although they didn’t get the right to actually vote in elections until 1922). What would be better than to reach full equality this year? As the Stem Op Een Vrouw initiative explains, a lot of people already (symbolically) vote for the first woman on their preferred party’s list. But what many people don’t realise is that voting for women high up on a party’s electoral list in the Dutch system of proportional representation won’t actually change these numbers. Our votes to the respective party will ensure that women high on the list get into Parliament in any case. Instead, we should use our preferential votes to vote strategically for women lower on a list. Only by voting for women who, without these preferential votes otherwise would not win a seat in Parliament, can we change the gender balance.

But we don’t just need more women in Dutch politics. We need more diversity in every respect. Currently only one Parliamentarian is black. There is only one trans-woman currently on the list of party members hoping to get elected. And the majority of Dutch parliamentarians are culturally “autochthonous” Dutch. This lack of ethnic, gender, cultural and other diversity is not and cannot be representative of Dutch society.

The Women’s March was one of several protests in The Netherlands calling for greater diversity and equal rights regardless of gender, background, ethnicity, nationality, or other status. As I am sure many of my fellow country-women and -men, I will be watching the election results on Wednesday evening with both fear and anticipation, knowing that Nevertheless, I persisted and voted with my conscience.

WomensMarch2.jpg

(Photo credit: Tammy Sheldon Photography, for Women’s March Netherlands)

Pic1-MamaCash.jpg

(Photo credit: MamaCash)

Pic Matilde Olsen.jpg

(Photo credit: Matilde Olsen)

WomensMarch5.jpg

WomensMarch4.jpg

(Photo credit last two photos: Tammy Sheldon Photography, for Women’s March Netherlands)

Cross posted from EUI blogs.

Call for Papers for the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law

The Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/ Revue Femmes et droit is Canada’s oldest and only feminist legal periodical. Since it began in 1985, the journal has provided a forum in which feminist writers from diverse backgrounds, speaking from a wide range of experience, can exchange ideas and information about legal issues that affect women. We are looking to build on this tradition and remain committed to reflecting a diversity of political, social, cultural, and economic thinking, unified by a shared interest in law reform.

We invite submissions from people who are engaged in feminist analysis of socio-legal issues that reflect a range of approaches, including multidisciplinary, action-focused, theoretical, and historical, and that reflect linguistic and regional differences in Canada. We particularly encourage submissions authored by women from different backgrounds, disciplines and jurisdictions who are doing new feminist work.

The CJWL/RFD is seeking papers for publication in the following sections of the CJWL/RFD: articles, review essays, commentaries, case comments, research notes, book reviews, and notes on Canadian and International events of interest to our readers. Comments on previously published materials are also welcome.

Full submissions information is available at http://bit.ly/cjwlsubmit.

If you have comments or questions, please contact:

Natasha Bakht

English Language Co-Editor

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law

cjwl-rfd@uottawa.ca

Annie Rochette

French Language Co-Editor – Corédactrice francophone

Revue Femmes et droit

cjwl-rfd@uottawa.ca

Appel à contributions

La Revue Femmes et droit/The Canadian Journal of Women and the Law est le plus ancien périodique consacré à des analyses féministes en droit au Canada. Depuis son lancement en 1985, la Revue offre aux auteures féministes de tous horizons un forum où échanger des idées et de l’information sur des questions juridiques qui touchent les femmes. Nous souhaitons renforcer cette tradition, en continuant de nourrir des réflexions politiques, sociales, culturelles et économiques diversifiées qui partagent un même intérêt pour la réforme du droit.

Nous accueillons les contributions de personnes engagées dans l’analyse féministe d’enjeux sociojuridiques. Les articles reflèteront à la fois des approches variées – multidisciplinaires, centrées sur l’action et historiques, notamment –, et les différences linguistiques et régionales du Canada. Nous recherchons, en particulier, des travaux de féministes issues de différentes formations, disciplines et juridictions qui renouvèlent les approches et analyses féministes.

La RFD/CJWL sollicite des textes relevant des catégories suivantes : articles, études de fond, commentaires de jurisprudence, études de cas, notes de recherche, recensions de livres, et observations sur les évènements nationaux et internationaux susceptibles d’intéresser notre lectorat. Les réactions à des textes publiés précédemment sont également bienvenues.

Vous trouverez tous les renseignements concernant les propositions d’articles au http://bit.ly/cjwlsubmit.

Work On! Opening for a Foreign Affairs Officer for the Office of Global Women’s Issues

The State Department has listed a GS-15 opening for a Foreign Affairs Officer, for the Office of Global Women’s Issues. Apply via USAJOBS.gov; applications close September 13 at midnight.  This is a GS-15 which typically requires 5-10 years work experience and has a commensurate level of responsibility.

They are looking for someone with a bachelor’s or graduate degree in international law, international relations, political science or social sciences or humanities.

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/449746300

  • Develops policy and programming initiatives in consultation with other Department offices, government agencies, and nongovernmental stakeholders. Develops and leads initiatives to ensure that gender issues are integrated into US foreign policy. Promotes bilateral and multilateral engagement opportunities to advance global women’s objectives.
  • Develops and maintains relationships with a wide array of counterparts across the interagency, with international governmental and non-governmental organizations, and bilaterally with relevant countries as well as with the private sector, U.S. international civil society groups, think tanks, and U.S. embassies and consulates to proactively and consistently raise and advance the objectives of the office and the Department regarding women and girls.
  • Provides expert policy analysis, development and coordination of women’s and girl’s issues covering North Africa / Egypt, countering violent extremism, and religious leader engagement, and oversees work of staff covering South Asia, economic empowerment, and social inclusion.
  • Monitors political, economic, social, and other significant developments and trends in order to gauge the effectiveness of, and facilitate efforts to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives.
  • Provides expert analysis and policy advice on women and Islam in regard to legal, social, and political dimensions and the practical implications for women and girls in Muslim-majority countries related to advancing the status of women and girls globally.

IN ADDITION to the basic requirements, this position requires one year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-14 level in the Federal service which provided the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the duties of the position. Qualifying specialized experience must demonstrate the following:

  • Experience making recommendations on how to advance the priorities in the North Africa and South Asian regions related to gender equality, gender-based violence, promoting women’s economic participation, and expanding women’s role in negotiations and peacebuilding activities.
  • Experience providing expert policy analysis, development and coordination of women’s and girls’ issues covering North Africa/Egypt, countering violent extremism, and religious leader engagement, and oversees work of staff covering South Asia, economic empowerment, and social inclusion.
  • Experience providing expert analysis and policy advice on women and Islam in regard to legal, social, and political dimensions and the practical implications for women and girls in Muslim-majority countries.

Good luck!