23 March, 2016

Finding Our Voices

Last Updated: 23 March 2016


Between March 3 and March 14, 2016, the Women in Justice Initiative of the USAID Justice for All Program (JFA) mobilized women judges, lawyers, and law students to raise the profile of women in justice sector professions, empower female leaders, and encourage students to participate and embrace careers in the judiciary and legal profession. Through a visibility campaign using the International Women’s Day 2016 theme #Planet5050 and slogan, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality” and a series of program events, USAID directly mobilized more than 30,000 women and men allies.


On March 10, 2016, JFA and the Student Legal Aid Forum organized a discussion meeting for 90 students and faculty members (including 15 male law students) at Dhaka International University to celebrate International Women's Day. The objective of the event was to establish a linkage between women law students and women professionals and recognize the accomplishments of women in the legal arena. Guest speakers shared their experiences in overcoming obstacles in the legal profession. Following the event, one student declared “I am now inspired to become a leader in the judicial community”.


On March 12, 2016, JFA and the Bangladesh Women Judges Association organized a joint event celebrating International Women’s Day with 70 women judges, law students, and special guests including Justice Zinat Ara, Senior Justice, Supreme Court High Court Division, and Amber Brooks, Director, USAID Office of Democracy and Governance. In her remarks, Justice Zinat Ara noted that “the support from USAID’s Justice for All Program will continue to encourage and inspire women judges to strive to be judicial leaders.” The event opened with the premiere viewing of the Women in Justice documentary, a short video feature designed encouraging young women students to become leaders in the justice sector. JFA’s 2016 Finding Our Voices Report, a mapping of constraints and opportunities for women in the justice sector was also presented during the event. Throughout the day, judges at all levels shared their experiences overcoming obstacles and aspirations for the future as women working in the legal community through a variety of testimonies, motivational speeches, poems, and songs.


Between March 3 and March 14, JFA sub-grantee partners marked International Women’s Day by hosting and participating in more than 90 community-based events across 7 districts, including Bogra, Dinajpur, Khulna, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Tangail. Activities aimed to raise awareness and support for women’s empowerment and to spread information on the rights and services available to the most vulnerable, particularly women. Activities included large public sensitization events such as rallies, human chains, miking campaigns, and press conferences, as well as smaller informational sessions aimed at raising awareness. Smaller events included courtyard meetings and discussion sessions with local women judges and lawyers, legal aid clinics, and school based debates.  


This week offered an opportunity for women law students, court officials, judges, and lawyers to celebrate achievements, share concerns, and demonstrate the power of unity and commitment.