--- What we do---

 

The South African Chapter promotes the participation of its members in national and international conferences, judicial exchanges, fora seminars and training programs in order to increase their understanding of the broad range of social, economic, psychological and cultural factors that affect and/or influence women who interact with or are affected by the justice system. Further the Chapter supports programmes and activities to discourage violence and abuse in our society, with particular focus on violence against women, children and other vulnerable groups in support of a violence-free society.

One of our primary objectives is facilitating and encouraging the exchange of information on issues of mutual interest, to look at challenges of women leadership in the judiciary and to bridge the gap, being the lack of communication, between Lower and Higher Courts.

The South African Chapter also recognizes the importance of co-operation with other Provincial, National and International associations, institutions, bodies and organizations on issues of interest to women judicial officers and women generally. We have partnered with South African universities and law schools in hosting conferences and developing legal educational programs were judicial issues have been debated and considered with eminent jurists, judges, professors and ministers from within and across the borders of South Africa.

Another objective of the SA Chapter is the recruitment of male judicial officers. It is, therefore, noteworthy that there are several male members in the Chapter, as well as attorneys and advocates who have joined as Friends of the Chapter. The South African Chapter welcomes all judicial officers, regardless of gender, race, or rank in the judicial hierarchy, with the aim of promoting solidarity among judicial officers.

The majority of cases that affect women and children are heard and adjudicated in the magistrates’ courts of our country. These courts are often the first point of access to justice and contact with the law for most people. As judicial officers in these lower courts we make decisions that have a major impact on the lives of individuals, and in particular the lives of women and children. Giving effect to the values and imperatives enshrined in the Constitution of our country as well as taking into account social context considerations are central to the promise of striving to achieve substantive justice and equality for all.¬†

At the level of the High Courts, the development of the Law by giving effect to Constitutional imperatives, setting precedent for the lower courts and, among other things, applying International Law and Covenants becomes relevant.

The South African Chapter recognises that it is imperative to implement ongoing judicial training, education, and development. Many training initiatives have been undertaken and will continue in the future. For example in

  • 2014/2015 Programmes on Health, Wellness, and Security for All Women were undertaken. The programme aimed to increase awareness of self-care, acknowledges the value of taking time to reflect on health, wellbeing and security for all our members through educational programmes and civil society engagement.
  • 2009/2010
    - Human Trafficking Workshops 
  • 2007/2008:
    - Legal Writing Course
    - Child Sexual Offences and Child Trafficking
    - HIV/AIDS Training
    - Judgment Writing Courses
    - Judicial Leadership and Development Program.
  • In 2005 the “Jurisprudence of Equality” training program was undertaken on a ‘train-the trainer’ basis, where a core group of 25 members from the different provinces were trained. The purpose was to enable them to roll out the training to other members in their respective provinces.

The Chapter has been very actively involved in community outreach and development since its inception. For example:

  • In 2014 members from most provinces participated and contributed to the success of the National Schools Moot Court Competition by making a difference in the lives of young school learners. The final competition was held at the Constitutional Court on 11 October 2014.
  • 2004 - 16 Days’ of Activism Campaign jointly with Nadel, BLA, Law Society and many other role players
  • 2005-2009- Take a Girl Child to Work Day,
    - 16 Days’ of Activism
  • Women’s Month initiatives
    - Establishment of mobile library for Westville Female Prison, KZN (to be replicated in other provinces)
  • Similar intensive program of community outreach is planned to continue on an ongoing basis.
  • We are excited to present a Mentorship Programme to be hosted in 2015 which seeks to invest energy in young girls who wish to pursue legal careers.
And finally, the South African Chapter has vigorously embraced the perspective that as judicial officers, men and women, we are in a uniquely privileged position to influence the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Individually, we can achieve positive results on a case by case basis. Collectively, we can ensure equal justice for all everywhere. There is no more effective way to do this than through involvement in the work and membership of IAWJ.