Thematic Consultation On Women’s Equal And Inclusive Representation In International Decision-Making Systems

Working to bridge gender gap in executive and leadership roles

On September 25 and 26, The Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) hosted  a Thematic Consultation On Women’s Equal And Inclusive Representation In International Decision-Making Systems (GR 40).

Members of the panel discuss inclusive representation in international decision-making systems.

In collaboration with GQUAL, a campaign that promotes gender parity in international tribunals and monitoring bodies, as well as the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), this consultation provided AUWCL students a unique opportunity to engage with leading experts on gender parity in international decision-making systems.

"The Academy has been at the forefront of promoting and teaching human rights law and the rights of women for more than 25 years," said Claudia Martin, co-director of the Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at AUWCL. "These recognized  experts accepted the invitation to come here because of our international recognition in the field."

One of the  highlights of the two-day event was a panel discussion moderated by Maria Noel Leoni, Deputy Executive Director, CEJIL and Director of  GQUAL. Nicole Ameline, member  of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) committee, delivered opening remarks. Panelists included Claudia Martin, Priya Pillai, and Ursala Indacochea. Laurence Borgorgue-Larsen, provided closing remarks.

Martin expressed her deep appreciation for the honor of hosting such an important event featuring distinguished panelists at AUWCL. "This general recommendation will trigger a paradigm shift asserting that women have the right to be represented in parity in all areas where  decisions are made," she said.

The panelists discussed the pressing need to tackle the prevailing barriers hindering the achievement of women’s right to equal participation and representation at all levels, including in international decision-making systems. They reflected on the reality that despite forty years since the CEDAW Convention was adopted, women still face significant underrepresentation in decision making systems at all levels.

"To say that we have a percentage of increasing women in law and the judicial branch is not enough and is not a victory." Pillai, Head of Asia Justice Coalition (ASJ) Secretariat said. "We need women in all absent spaces." 

"We, as an institution, have seen that a lot of women who  are appointed as Commissioners or Judges by the Inter-American system, have previously been appointed  by the domestic courts, mostly in the Judicial Branch of their countries , said panelist Indacochea, program manager for Due Process of Law Foundation. "On the other hand, men who are appointed to the same positions are  academics. This is important to highlight because it says that the State verifies more than twice the nominee process only when women are appointed."

Mabel Huerta (LLM) found the discussions insightful, as they expanded the ways she looked at the subject. “Although all the women present at the round table agreed that we need to achieve greater representation of women in organizations and institutions, each one approached it from a different perspective,” she said.

In a powerful testament to the Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law's enduring commitment to advancing gender equality in international decision-making, this Thematic Consultation marks a significant milestone. The event discussions and insights served as a reminder that women's equal representation is not merely a goal but an imperative for progress in all spheres of society.

~Story by Hasini Jayawardena.