GRC CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020
On 8 March 2020, GRC will take the opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and join calls for gender equality worldwide. UN Women’s theme of this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is ‘I am generation equality: realising women’s rights’.
GRC is proud to be a progressive workplace where female lawyers are leading across all of our flagship projects and mentoring some of the next generation of female practitioners in international law. At all levels, this support enables an environment where female-lead projects such as the Starvation Project and Basic Investigative Standard App (BIS App) have been able to thrive.
This IWD presents an opportune moment to reflect on the vast array of contributions women have made to developments in international law. Achievements in the field of international law have been, and will continue to be, vital to ensuring gender equality, understanding the gendered implications of armed conflict and combatting sexual violence. Over the last year, GRC worked with a number of women and women-led organisation including: Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice (WIGJ), who launched the Hague Principles on Sexual Violence at the Assembly of State Parties in December 2019, which GRC’s Ruby Axelson is pleased to have contributed to through the drafting of the ICL Guidelines; the Bangladesh Liberation War Museum which collects critical evidence of sexual violence committed against the Rohingya and providing support to victims; and supporting Rohingya victims seeking accountability for sexual violence crimes and recognition of this conduct as a tool of genocide.
The Hague Principles on Sexual Violence have also been incorporated into the BIS App and used as part of our training on how to build international crimes cases involving sexual violence, attended by civil societies from nine different countries including Syria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, South Sudan, Mali, Ukraine and Yemen. In 2020, through development and dissemination of the BIS App section on sexual violence and accompanying capacity building, GRC will continue to promote gendered perspectives and focus on sexual violence throughout justice pathways, including at the documentation, investigation, and prosecution levels.
GRC considers a gendered analysis throughout all of its projects, including the Starvation Project. The stigma and trauma associated with starvation is understood differently by men and women and remains largely under-analysed. To highlight just a few of the ways in which women experience food-insecurity in conflict, there are: maternal deficiencies and increased maternal mortality; gender preferencing in the distribution of food which can leave women or girls with restricted access to food during periods of food scarcity; cultural restrictions which may impede women and girls from travelling alone in the absence of a man, which are likely to be more severe in conflict when the male members of the family are involved in combat; increased chances of secondary violence including sexual and gender-based violence; and an increase in negative coping mechanisms like child marriages. GRC will focus more on these harms and inequality analysing starvation through a gendered lens, to ensure they are monitored, recorded and investigated, through our Starvation Training Manual and our forthcoming starvation edited textbook which features detailed discussions on gender and starvation.
Despite these successes, work must continue earnestly to ensure gender quality and the combatting of sexual violence remains a focus throughout our work in 2020. With the continued leadership of women across the field of international law, GRC is committed to contributing towards making gender discrimination and sexual violence publicly inexcusable and legally accountable.