Women need to get to a position whereby they are able to enjoy their rights in the justice system in terms of fairness, equity and justice. They need to be able to have both procedural access to justice as well as substantive justice. Further, protection of rights must continue through all stages of the legal process, from the time of reporting a crime to the police, to following the grant of a remedy by the court to make certain that it is enforced.
WOJAM’s believe that its role in ensuring access to justice for women can be achieved through the following –
The judiciary needs to have a proportionate number of female judicial officers. This vision needs to tally with an increase in the number of court buildings through construction of modern court facilities and rehabilitation of existing ones, for a women friendly environment. Some areas which do not have any court centre near them which constrains women from seeking judicial services as they have to walk long distances or part with money for transport costs.
For WOJAM to ensure more women on the bench, it has to undertake more career talks and role modelling across Malawi so that more girls and women are encouraged to consider the legal and judicial profession.
I am a passionate women and children legal empowerment advocate. As a judge of the high Court of Malawi I head the training function of the Women Judges Association of Malawi (WOJAM), a female judicial officer led organization that empowers women and children to seek access to justice especially in sexual violence cases. In this capacity, I have designed and implemented awareness raising campaigns aimed at the grassroots where we have reached out to women and children who face many hurdles in accessing justice and either resort to not reporting, withdrawing cases or suffering in silence. We encourage communities by highlighting success stories of cases that have been completed in the courts. I also design and implement training programs for judicial officers and other criminal justice stakeholders such as the police, social workers and medical personnel so that when victims of violence seek support they are treated in a gender sensitive manner with no gender biases.
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