Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

U.S. law group hosts discussion on Afghan judicial system

In a luncheon today sponsored by the American Society for International Law’s (ASIL) Women in International Law Interest Group, Joan D. Winship of the International Association of Women Judges spoke concerning the current state of the Afghan judicial system and issues of equality within that system. Despite the dismissal of women judges during the Taliban’s reign, interest has started to peak once again with the hope of increasing awareness among Afghanistan’s youth.

In association with the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) and the Afghan Women Judges Association, the “Legal Awareness Program” has started to gain popularity in high schools around Kabul. Although the program is currently only administered in all-girl schools, the hope is that the desire for equality and rule of law will allow more schools to participate in this program.

The Legal Awareness Program is designed to educate and train high school women and their teachers on the relevance of international human rights law within the new Afghan constitution and judicial system. The program focuses on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), in addition to various regional declarations, as a means of confirming the rights of all persons within Afghan society. The essential aspect of this program is to create awareness among a whole generation of young Afghans as to the prospects of an equal and just society that does not discriminate against educated and professional women.

The goal of the Legal Awareness Program is to continue progress in the battle against gender discrimination in Afghan society. Although the number of female judges in Afghanistan rose from 34 in 2004 to 50 in 2007, a female judge has still never been appointed to the country’s Supreme Court – a feat that will hopefully be realized through the education and motivation of those participating in this program. As social barriers are beginning to break, the IAWJ is determined to provide an educational foundation which takes precedence over previous generations of illiteracy and dependence to bring forth a new emphasis on equality and rights for the Afghan people as a whole.

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