The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) held its 14th biennial international conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina from Wednesday 2 May to Sunday 6 May 2018. This year’s theme focused on Building Bridges between Women Judges of the World with the presence of 900 female judges from 80 countries.
“More women – more justice”, was the slogan of this year’s conference which was successfully organized by prominent women judges from five continents. Some of the topics of discussion included the progresses and challenges that exist in the area of justice for women in the world, eliminating misogynist laws from the judiciary system, and examining the role of female judges in the development of judicial systems in the world.
The opening ceremony was held at the famous Buenos Aires Colon Theater followed by live performance by the police force.
Subsequently, 23 panels and meetings were held at the Hilton Conference Hall from May 3 to 5, 2018.
On the first day, the meeting began with a speech by Elena Highton de Nolasco, the co-founder of the International Association of Women Judges, and the first female member of the Supreme Court of Argentina.
Ms. Highton spoke of her personal experiences, her endeavors to becoming a judge at the Supreme Court and opening the path for other women, as well as her efforts to provide strategies to better assist judges in helping women victims of violence. She said, “We have had a long way in which women had to work hard to prove their abilities, even women who had already taken up such roles.”
Subsequently, Ms. Sonia Sotomayor from the United States Supreme Court sent a video message to the meeting.
The next speaker included, Governor Maria Eugenia Vidal, governor of Buenos Aires. She is the first female governor in Argentinian history to hold this postition. Ms. Vidal highlighted the role of women judges, and in particular Hon. Susana Medina in establishing justice for women in Argentina, especially in improving the situation of rural and marginalized women.
The second day was kicked off with a video message by the head of the UK Supreme Court and former chairperson of the International Association of Women Judges, Baroness Lady Brenda Hale of Richmond DBE.
Following was the Minister of Justice of Canada, Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould, who attended the panel with Robert Fry, Canadian Ambassador to Argentina. She discussed and reviewed the role of female judges from ethnic minorities and their importance in building bridges for justice in their respective communities.
Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Associate Judge of the US Supreme Court, who due to an illness could not be present, addressed the conference via a video message and supported its objectives.
The next speaker, Ms. Alicia Pucheta, Vice President of Paraguay, who has played a significant role in the advancement of women in Paraguay, talked about the need for an extension of legislation to protect women, and discussed and reviewed the laws of Latin American countries, including Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico and Ecuador, with the presence of judges from these countries.
On the final day of the conference, distinguished judges, including Dr. T.A. Doherty (Special Court Judge for Sierra Leone) were awarded for their lifetime of hard work and efforts to bring justice to the world.
Finally, Ms. Vanessa Ruiz, a Senior Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, was elected as the new chairperson of the International Association of Women Judges.