WINDHOEK - Statistics indicate the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has gender bias in the justice delivery system, with a low representation of women in management positions of the judiciary and those sitting on the bench.
Despite the fact that figures are lower elsewhere in the region, Swaziland’s female judges are currently standing at 20 percent, while Namibia is at 15 percent.
According to the SADC gender and development monitor 2016 report, Seychelles is so far the only country whose chief justice is a woman, appointed to office in 2015.
Botswana and Mozambique are the only member states with a woman attorney general.
The report indicates that in 2010, Tanzania had more women judges than men, with 55.6 percent representation at the court of appeal and 56 percent at the high court.
As a result of these numbers, the women judges in that country organised themselves into the Tanzania Women Judges Association, which routinely collects decisions that affect women and children, ensuring that judges and magistrates know about them.
The report also shows Zimbabwe is moving in this direction, with women judges currently standing at 48 percent: 26 female judges and 28 male judges.
South Africa’s women judges constitute 34 percent, made up of 18 female judges and 157 male ones.
Further, the report states that greater representation of women in the judiciary and on the bench, as well as other sectors of the justice delivery system can lead to greater access to justice intervention options by fostering greater confidence in women to approach the courts, who would otherwise be intimidated by the male-centred outlook of the personnel of the courts.
In addition, it has been indicated that it is the contention that an increase in women judges can lead to greater ethos for gender-aligned judgments and accelerate the uptake of the judiciary and legislative transformation of laws that member states are working so hard to put in place.
“This is because women’s access to justice is not facilitated primarily by the various legislative enactments but by the state’s capacity to weave them into accessible national tools that shift structural inhibitors to women’s access to its facilities,” the report stated.
On legal aid schemes, Namibia among other member states has been lauded for offering legal aid for criminal, civil and divorce cases to unemployed people and low-income earners below a specific threshold.
2019-12-06 07:43:10 | 3 months ago