---- About Us----

 

The South African Chapter of the International Association of Women Judges was formed in August 2004 and was formally inaugurated by the then South African President Thabo Mbeki at a ceremony on 8 August 2004. The membership of the Chapter comprises both Judges and Magistrates, and seeks to bring together female and male judicial officers in South Africa, who embrace the objectives of the International Association of Women Judges.

Since its inception 24 years ago, the IAWJ has grown to more than 4, 600 members in more than 75 countries around the globe, and has made great strides in empowering women throughout the world so that the day to day problems of women and children can be properly resolved through judicial systems. The Chapter is a juristic person, which is further a non- profit and non-governmental organization. The Chapter is run on funds from membership fees.

“OUR INTERNATIONAL HISTORY” - AN INSPIRATION FOR THE LADY JUSTICES OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN JUDICIARY

Even today, there are some places in the world where women are unable to become judges, and women judges seem universally to continue a struggle to attain equality and parity within their professions and societies. For instance, in countries where women judges outnumber men judges, judges often receive low pay for the job, and are otherwise marginalized by a lack of respect for the judiciary. In countries where there are equal numbers of women and men, women often receive less desirable case assignments, have to relocate away from family, or have fewer sought-after administrative duties.

Or consider those countries where both pay and stature may be equal, but the number of women judges remains a small proportion of the total number. So, while the battles may be different in different countries or different parts of the world, there seem to be always battles for the women. We know that, even today, no country in the world is able to claim that it has been able to eliminate violence and pernicious discrimination against women in society.

And so the work of the International Association of Women Judges was begun, and continues. A courageous and inspired group of 50 women judges from around the world came together in 1991. Since its inception, the IAWJ has grown to more than 4, 600 members in more than 75 countries around the globe, and has made great strides in empowering women throughout the world so that the day to day problems of women and children can be properly resolved through judicial systems.

 

The objectives of the South African Chapter are:

  1. To assist women to participate meaningfully in the justice system in South Africa and to assist in the provision of public legal education and information programs;
  2. To contribute towards the promotion of human rights and equality, the enhancement of the administration of justice for the benefit of all including access to justice, with particular focus on issues concerning children, women and other vulnerable groups in South Africa;
  3. To contribute to the development of human rights to ensure that the justice system promotes and protects the rights and interests of women and others, and reflects equality before the law for women and others in our society by encouraging and implementing strategies to achieve gender equality in the justice system;
  4. To support programs and activities to discourage violence and abuse, in whatever form, in our society with particular focus on violence against women, children and other vulnerable groups;
  5. To eradicate the barriers which interfere with the full participation by women in the legal system in order to promote and support the advancement of women at all levels of the judiciary so that the judiciary reflects the demographics of the society it serves;
  6. To disseminate information affecting women judicial officers;
  7. To participate in national and international conferences, judicial exchanges, fora, seminars and training programmes for the benefit of judicial officers and other interested persons in order to increase understanding of the broad range of social, economic, psychological and cultural factors that affect and/or influence women who are affected by the justice system.
  8. To inform and educate the public about the role of the judiciary in the justice system, in promoting and protecting equal rights and interests of women, children and other vulnerable groups, and to work towards building confidence in the judiciary;
  9. To encourage co-operation of the members of the Chapter at all levels in order to maximize their efficiency in the discharge of their judicial duties so that they may serve their communities and the nation more effectively;
  10. To co-operate with the International Association of Women Judges in the furtherance of its objectives;
  11. To encourage cooperation and collaboration between women judicial officers of all nations;
  12. To cooperate and work with other provincial, national and international associations, institutions, bodies, organizations and governments on issues of interest to women in South Africa in order to achieve the above objectives.

The reasons for joining IAWJ are numerous. It is our duty as judicial officers to ensure equality before the law and access to justice for all. The South African Chapter has, in the very short time it has been in existence, done much to promote these ideals. We have dedicated ourselves to building public confidence in the judiciary, both at the Lower Court as well as High Court levels.