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Women belong in All Places where Major Decisions are being made

07 Mar 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

Traditionally, in democracy, there are four major Pillars; The Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Free Media. However, the common people are sovereign, and they exercise that power mainly at elections. In Sri Lanka today there is confusion and controversy on whether, when and what elections will be held with the President and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) expressing one view while the opposition parties including the main opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alleging that subtle moves are on going to put off the next Presidential Elections which are scheduled to be held in September or October this year. The opposition parties say one such move is to abolish the Executive Presidential system — a change that was promised since 1994, when the then newly elected President Chandrika Kumaranatunga described the system as a “curse” and vowed to abolish it within 24 hours. However, 20 years have passed, and the system still prevails, giving proofs to the saying, “Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely”. However, the judiciary to a large degree has remained beyond the ‘curse’ of bribery or corruption, though there had been instances of abuse (one particular instance was the appointment of then Chief Justice, Mohan Peiris; however, then President Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the next Presidential election). 

On March 10, the United Nations marks the International Day of Women Judges. In a statement the world body says, despite women’s increased engagement in public life, they remain significantly under-represented in decision-making positions. In fact, a relatively small number of women have been, or are part of the judiciary, particularly at senior judicial leadership positions.
According to the UN, women’s representation in the judiciary is key to ensuring that courts represent their citizens, address their concerns and hand down sound judgments. By their mere presence, women judges enhance the equitability of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.
The entry of women judges into spaces from which they had historically been excluded has been a positive step in the direction of judiciaries being perceived as being more transparent, inclusive and representative of the people whose lives they affect, the UN says.
The UN will reaffirm its commitment to develop and implement appropriate and effective national strategies for the advancement of women in judicial justice systems and institutions at the leadership, managerial and other levels.
Referring to women judges and the achievement of gender equality, the UN says the representation of women in the judiciary is significant for many reasons. In addition to ensuring that the legal system is developed with all of society in mind, it also inspires the next generation of female judges and motivates them to achieve their goals.
Women in the criminal justice system can act as agents of change and contribute to greater accountability. Women judges bring different perspectives and experiences, strengthening judicial systems. Women in leadership roles help disrupt networks of collusion, striking a blow against corruption.
Women’s representation in law enforcement and judicial institutions has been linked to more effective, victim-centred responses to crime.
The UN says by investing in women’s advancement and women justice leaders, we can help ensure that justice is better served and that women and all members of our societies are met with fairness and equality before the law, for the benefit of all.

In Sri Lanka too women are heavily under-represented in the judiciary. According to our social norms, it is known that in the cases of rape and child abuse, the victims would be more comfortable answering a female judge than a male. 
A United States judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg says, women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.