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Celebrating International Women's Day: Accelerating progress towards access to justice for women

Celebrating International Women's Day: Accelerating progress towards access to justice for women

The law can be harsh and sometimes discriminatory for those on the margins of society. Around the world, defenceless communities cannot access justice and often don't get a fair hearing. Women are particularly at risk. At Justice Defenders, we invest in women, ensuring they have legal knowledge and training to defend themselves and others.

Rooted in our values of solidarity, humility, bravery, excellence and integrity, we aim to build a radically inclusive community through collaboration. Regardless of who you are, where you've been, what you've done or what's been done to you, we will welcome you and defend you. We believe that everyone has the right to tell their side of the story before being convicted of a crime or punished. We remain devoted to ensuring many more women have the opportunity to gain legal education and accelerate progress towards better access to justice for all.

In 2015, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) translated the development goals into fundamental categories for a more sustainable and prosperous population across the globe. The fifth of the 17 goals in the distinguished document was dedicated to achieving gender equality. Though slow, there is some progress towards demystifying gender stereotypes and gender biases. The world must devise a means to bridge this gap and accelerate progress towards inclusive and sustainable development.

As we mark International Women's Day, we resolutely commit to radical inclusion and legal empowerment for all. With the generous backing of our donors, many more women stand for a fair trial and self-represent themselves in court. As a community, we journey together to a preferred future. One where justice is reliable and can be practised best by those who need it most. Where women serve in various capacities in prisons as incarcerated women and prison officers, in courts as magistrates and judges, and in their communities as paralegals, advocates, and pro-bono lawyers.

To honour this auspicious day, we engaged eight women within The Gambia's justice sector to reflect on what justice means to them.

Watch the video below to hear from them.

In honour of this year’s theme, our paralegals have prepared written pieces :

Susan Gachoki and Laureen Ndolo at Thika Women Prison legal office, Kenya.

"Red Roses" by Thomas Mutune

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Women are purple today… colour of royalty, 

The pillar of society her honesty she guarantees,

In a justice march in 1908, fought selflessly for a dignified space, to stop being a property, 

Now she bravely decides how things were and ought to be.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Women are white today…  they come in peace in this broken society. 

The world devours her beauty, yet she still fights for us all,

She scales walls and may sometimes take the fall, 

Never invited to the victory table, though we expect her to serve with no fault.

Today, she is the glue that brings us pieces back together, hoping to keep us from a brawl.

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Women are green today… with hope, with dreams and prosperity

What the world is today is a gift from a woman, 

May what the world become her legacy,

The world is, because women are at the fore of progress and empowerment.

This International Women’s Day, let’s support the worthy movement –

And ensure all women have equal opportunity and treatment.

Mother and child are escorted by a prison officer in Luzira Women's Prison, Uganda.

"A woman with a voice" by Priscilla Cherono

In the history of humanity women have been part and parcel of progress in society.

They play a complementary role in procreation, companionship, nurturing and caring of the environment.

Their feminine traits of humility, kindness, modesty, go beyond skin deep beauty.

Nonetheless, for the women to be included in equality and equity, the key thing is education.

Wasn’t it well said by Dr: James Emmanuel Kwegyir-Aggrey, ‘If you educate a woman, you educate a nation?’

An educated woman is inspired and empowered,

To advocate for gender equality and equity,

To stand up for the voiceless and defenseless.

Gender inequality is not for the women to fight,

But for the society at large to join hands in empowering,

And educating women and girls-this is not the end.

Women voices should matter and their opinions should count.

Daughter of Eve, irrespective of your race, culture, 

imprisoned or free,

Or status in society,  

Together on this day, we celebrate women’s day.

Happy International Women's Day!