Whereas women’s representation in Haiti generally is very low, the number of women judges has increased since the demise of authoritarianism and violent conflict in the 1990s. This case study explores why. I find that “gender neutral” judical reforms aimed at strengthening the judiciary have done more for women’s judicial representation than explicitly gender-targeted policies, which still lack implementation. Donor-supported reforms have introduced more merit-based and transparent appointment procedures for magistrates (judges and public prosecutors) based on competitive examinations. This has helped women circumvent the largely male power networks that previously excluded them from the judiciary. The judiciary remains understudied in the scholarship on women’s access to decision-making in fragile and conflict affected societies and this article contributes to this emerging literature.

Marianne Tøraasen

Post Doctoral Researcher, Coordinator Rights & Gender