On September 22, 2022, International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) Executive Director, Christie Jones, and Director of Programs, Jane Charles-Voltaire, attended a high-level discussion on gender equality and women in leadership and law sponsored by Co-Impact; the Clooney Foundation for Justice; Melinda French Gates; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Entitled Women in Leadership and Law: Barriers, Solutions and Role of Philanthropy, the gathering was organized in conjunction with the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Christie Jones, Executive Director, on the panel (middle) and with the event's distinguished attendees
The event opened with remarks from philanthropist Melinda French Gates, human rights activist Amal Clooney, Co Impact Founder and CEO Olivia Leland, and Melene Roussow, founder of the Women Lead Movement. All emphasized the need for the creation of and investment in partnerships and activities that transform the global judicial sector and ensure equal participation and representation of women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life. As stated by Ms. Roussow, the mission “is not only to work towards the achievement of gender equality, but ultimately gender justice where all genders can define and shape policies and decisions that directly impact their lives as society.”
The event included a panel discussion with the leaders of Co Impact’s inaugural Women in Leadership and Law grant partners. Moderated by Yasmin Madan, director of Co Impact’s philanthropic collaboration, the panel included Ms. Jones; J. Jarpa Dawuni, Executive Director, African Women in Law; Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director, Center for Justice and International Law; and Anita Zaidi, President, Gender Equality, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With the goal of inspiring committed funding for gender equality and women in leadership, the panelists reflected on the global challenges faced by women entering and advancing in the field of law and their impact on global gender justice. Ms. Jones spoke on the specific barriers experienced by many IAWJ members as they advance in the judiciary and how, through the partnership with Co-Impact, the IAWJ hopes to mitigate these barriers through its Women in Leadership in Law (WILIL) initiative. The initiative aims to support IAWJ members and affiliated associations with resources and tools to address these obstacles more effectively in their respective countries and regions.
Jane Charles-Voltaire, IAWJ Director of Programs
For Ms. Charles-Voltaire, the event provided space for relationship development with organizations that, like the IAWJ, are focused on more women entering, thriving in, and leading judiciaries around the globe. Such collaborations and partnerships are critical to the success of the WILIL initiative. Ms. Charles-Voltaire believes a greater number of diverse partnerships allows the IAWJ to create meaningful spaces and platforms for its members and national chapters and associations to speak for themselves and for them, as change agents, to be at the forefront. About the event she stated, it “was an eye opener. It allowed us to identify who can we lean on and who can lean on us in terms of advancing women’s leadership in law.”
 Co Impact. Women in Leadership and Law: Barriers, Solutions, and the Role of Philantrophy - Realizing the United Nations Call for Gender Equality (SDG 5) Event Summary. 22 September 2022.