International Association of Women Judges

Who we are

The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) is a charitable corporation registered in the District of Columbia, dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights and in particular those of women and girls. We are committed to upholding the rule of law and to the concept of equal justice everywhere and for everyone.

The IAWJ was founded in 1991 and now has over 6000 members from some 110 jurisdictions around the world and from all levels in the court hierarchy.  Its membership consists primarily of women judges but all judicial and quasi-judicial officers are eligible for membership. The IAWJ also welcomes as associate members those who support its goals, even if they are not judges.

What we do

The IAWJ works to build bridges between those from different legal systems, languages and cultures and to share and promote best practice. It also runs educational programmes to further its goals. These programmes are judge-led, built on the principles of adult education and are responsive to the needs in particular jurisdictions. Some of the IAWJ’s past and current educational projects include:

  • Its flagship programme, “Jurisprudence for Equality”, showing how international human rights standards and existing laws can be used to combat domestic violence. This programme has been run in numerous jurisdictions around the world.
  • The Global Leadership of Women GLOW project: examining issues around sexual assault in Western Africa and South Asia, including co-ordinating with traditional women leaders (the Queen Mothers) in Ghana. 
  • Combatting Human Trafficking in Haiti: a partnership programme with our Haitian affiliated association to combat human trafficking.  This included running workshops for judges, police, prosecutors and victim support services. 
  • IAWJ officers and board members featured prominently as speakers at the Vatican’s Summit of Women Judges and Prosecutors on Human Trafficking and Organised Crime in both 2017 and 2018.
  • Partnership with Transparency International to promote 21st century standards of integrity and accountability with regard to corruption and to strengthen judicial leadership in Morocco.
  • In 2009 the IAWJ was one of four sponsors of a consultation group in Johannesburg: HIV and the Law in the 21st Century.  The IAWJ’s Jurisprudence of Equality Programme also contains components on HIV/Aids, property rights and inheritance. 
  • Naming, Shaming and Ending Sextortion: the IAWJ coined the term “sextortion” to describe situations where those entrusted with authority abuse their power in exchange for sexual favours.  Workshops have been run in the Philippines, Tanzania and Bosnia and Herzegovina and a toolkit is publicly available for all to access at: http://www.iawj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Corruption-and-Sextortion-Resource-1.pdf

The IAWJ also has an important advocacy role, to the extent this is compatible with judicial office. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In this regard, Justice Glazebrook, in her capacity as President Elect of the IAWJ, recently presented a statement on access to justice at the UN Commission on Women (CSW63), held in New York in March this year. Justice Glazebrook also spoke at a side event organised by the International Development Law Organization on Women Delivering Justice. 

During the Commission, IAWJ leadership met with Maria Fernanda Espinosa, President of the General Assembly, with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women and with representatives from the United Nations Development Programme with a view to collaborating on projects of mutual interest. 

The IAWJ is a member of the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), which works to rebuild justice systems in conflict and post-conflict societies.  The IAWJ also supports the Judicial Integrity Network, set up by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), which concentrates on eliminating corruption, including sextortion, in the justice sector. 

Leadership

The current president of the IAWJ is Hon Vanessa Ruiz, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Washington DC. Her term ends at the 2020 conference, when the President Elect, Hon Susan Glazebrook, Supreme Court of New Zealand, will take over as President.

The two Vice Presidents are Hon. Binta Nyako, Federal High Court, Abuja, Nigeria and Hon. Margarita Beatriz Luna Ramos, recently retired from the Supreme Court of Mexico. The Secretary/Treasurer is Hon. Mina Sougrati, Administrative Tribunal of Casablanca, Casablanca, Morocco.

The IAWJ has a two board structure. The international board, comprising the officers and representatives from around the world meets once or twice a year. On this board, there are currently representatives from Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines, Australia, Canada, the United States, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Spain and Tunisia.

There is also a board of managerial trustees (BMT) based in Washington DC, where the executive office of the organisation is based. Responsibilities between the two boards are clearly defined and divided in accordance with District of Columbia law.

Members of the BMT include current and former judges, as well as university professors, lawyers and business leaders. Current members of the BMT include:

Hon Mary McGowan Davis (ret.), Chair, Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York,  Hon Tamarin Dunnet, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto, Canada, Hon M  Margaret McKeown, US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, San Diego, Hon Arline Pacht (ret.), Founder of IAWJ, Washington, DC.

Drucilla Stender Ramey, Golden Gate Law Dean Emerita, San Francisco, CA, Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Professor, University of Miami School of Law, Hon Marietta S Robinson, Harvard University and Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School.

Amb Susan G Esserman, Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Washington, DC, Joanne Samuel Goldblum, National Diaper Bank Network, New Haven, Amb. Mari Carmen Aponte, United States Department of State, Washington DC and Laura Stein, Clorox Company, Executive Vice-President- General Counsel and Corporate Affairs, Oakland.

For more information, please visit www.iawj.org.  In particular see the 25th anniversary Jubilee Book for information on the work of the organisation and its affiliated national associations.