The Commonwealth Secretariat has launched the first Judicial Bench Book on Violence against women in East Africa, as part of the bloc’s broader effort to end impunity and effectively address violence against women and girls.
Launched at the 11th Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting (WAMM), currently underway in Apia, Samoa, the book aims at improving access to justice for women and prevent stereotyping.
The book aims to strengthen mechanisms for addressing violence against women and girls in the Commonwealth and paves the way for wider sensitisation on the important role of judges and relevant stakeholders in addressing violence against women and girls, according to a statement.
Patricia Scotland QC, the first female Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who is convening the 11th Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministerial Meeting, noted that the book provides lessons for all other regions and will assist in promoting equality and convening other judicial forums.
“When you look at this book I’m sure that what you will find is that there are echoes of truth within it for all of our regions. So whilst you’re waiting for the Pacific book and the Caribbean book and the European book and the North American book, look at this one because there are a lot of great lessons in that too.”
“Ultimately, the bench book will contribute to legal reforms with the potential of strengthening the capacity of judicial officers to effectively address violence against women,” Scotland said.
The book contains a compilation of national and international cases on women’s rights, remote information sharing on gender equality, the commission of the Pan-Commonwealth Case Law review on violence against women as a tool and resource for promoting equality and convening other judicial forums.
Running under the theme ‘Gender equality through sustainable development in an inclusive Commonwealth’, the meeting aims at bringing attention to the alliance of Commonwealth governments to deliver on the promise of gender equality and end violence against women and girls, including achieving justice for women in courts.
The meeting has been held triennially since 1985 and provides the opportunity for ministers, senior officials, civil society, private sector and partner agencies to discuss critical issues in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
It also contributes to the setting of Commonwealth priorities and the global agenda for sustainable and inclusive development.
The Commonwealth Secretariat provides guidance on policy making, technical assistance and advisory services to Commonwealth member countries.