30 Jan 2018

Women on the Bench: The Role of Female Judges in Fragile States

A team of LawTransform researchers lead by Elin Skaar (Chr. Michelsen Institute) has been awarded a grant from the Norwegian Research Council to investigate  ”Women on the Bench: The Role of Female Judges in Fragile States”. The project is a partnership between the CMI and the Overseas Development Institute (Pilar Domingo), the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen (Siri Gloppen) and CIESAS (Rachel Sieder). Participating researchers include: Ruth Rubio Marin; Torunn Wimpelmann; Antonio de Lauri and Aslak Jangård Orre.

In long-established western democracies, women have made inroads as judges only during the past few decades. In post-conflict and transitional developing countries, however, they constitute an increasingly larger proportion of judges. Why is this so? Situations of political rupture generally create new opportunity structures; some may favour the entry of women into public positions of power. Post-conflict assistance often includes gender friendly rule of law reforms, and the conflict itself may have placed rights issues in focus. How these conditions affect women’s access to, and utilization of, positions of judicial power has not received much attention in the literature.

This project addresses this by exploring: What are the main pathways of women judges to the bench? What are the gendered experiences of women on the bench? How and in what ways does having more women on the bench impact on judicial outcomes – specifically on cases involving violence against women and children? In essence, what difference do women judges make?

Elin Skaar

Senior Researcher, Coordinator: Rights and Legal Institutions

Antonio De Lauri

Coordinator, Humanitarianism and Borders, Senior Researcher

Monica Kirya

Senior Program Advisor (U4)