African Women Judges on International Courts: Symbolic or Substantive Gains?
iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 60
29 Pages Posted: 12 May 2016 Last revised: 22 May 2017
Date Written: May 10, 2016
This article documents the substantive contributions women judges make to international courts. It moves beyond symbolic and descriptive analyses of why gender matters on international courts and opens up a new discussion on the need to more closely evaluate the contributions women judges bring to international courts. Without repeating essentialist debates on the need for more women judges, this article adds to existing literature on gender and judging by identifying and explaining six patterns of contributions women judges bring to international courts. Using African women judges as a proxy, this article finds that women judges on international courts are not token judges. They possess the qualifications, skills and experience needed for these positions. Their contributions to international law include; challenging gender hierarchies, enriching international law through diversity, contributing to the jurisprudence of international human rights law, bringing the “different” voice, advancing women’s rights as human rights and promoting judicial collegiality and socialization.
Keywords: Women judges, international courts, Africa, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, International Criminal Court
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