IAWJ President Hon. Vanessa Ruiz Writes OpEd for UNODC

UNODC | “The Role of Women Judges and a Gender Perspective in Ensuring Judicial Independence and Integrity” is the title of IAWJ President Hon. Vanessa Ruiz’s OpEd for UNODC’s Global Judicial Integrity Network. Throughout the article, Judge Ruiz addresses how women enrich the judiciary by promoting its integrity and adding new perspectives to old problems.

“The judiciary will not be trusted if it is viewed as a bastion of entrenched elitism, exclusivity, and privilege, oblivious to changes in society and to the needs of the most vulnerable. … That is why the presence of women is essential to the legitimacy of the judiciary.”

For Judge Ruiz, equal representation of women at all levels of the judiciary and policy-making judicial councils, is not only right for women, but it is also right for the achievement of a more just rule of lawWomen judges strengthen the judiciary and help gain the public’s trust.

“By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.”

Women judges also “contribute significantly to the quality of decision-making, and thus to the quality of justice itself.” Women judges, Hon. Vanessa Ruiz writes, not only have the required credentials and qualifications for judicial selection, they also have the social and cultural impacts of their experiences and obligations as women. Their experiences shape their judicial decisions making them more comprehensive and empathetic, encompassing the legal basis for judicial action, as well as an awareness of the consequences on the people affected.

“Adjudication is enhanced by the presence of women who bring to the fore considerations that would not have been taken into account in their absence; the scope of the discussion is hence enlarged, possibly preventing ill-considered or improper decisions.”

Judge Ruiz highlights women judge’s impact in judicial bias by explaining that “by elucidating how laws and rulings can be based on gender stereotypes, or how they might have a different impact on women and men, a gender perspective enhances the fairness of adjudication, which ultimately benefits both men and women. Only by identifying bias in a purposeful and systematic way can it be eliminated.”

For her, a solution to this issue is the diversification of the life experiences of judges. A more varied demographic can keep judges accountable to biases and misunderstandings.

You can read the full article here.