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Is the International Day for Women Judges really necessary?

10 March 2022 represents the inaugural United Nations International Day of Women Judges.  At a time when it seems almost every day is the international day of something, it might cause us to question whether it is necessary to designate a day specifically to the celebration of women judges?  Well, the State of Qatar certainly thought it was when it petitioned the General Assembly of the United Nations to do just that, resulting in the determination on 21 April 2021 that 10 March each year be proclaimed as the UN International Day of Women Judges1.

We are fortunate in our local area to have women represented in each of our Courts – state and federal – at all levels of decision making.  It shows our community’s commitment to, and acknowledgement of the importance of, the promotion of women in supporting the rule of law.

As at 30 June 2020, women made up 38.8% of all judges in Australia, with the Victorian state courts having the highest representation of women.  At the same time, females made up 50.2% of the Australian population2; which tells us that more work is to be done to address Australia being deprived of decisions that include the experience, insights and talents of half of its population.

The UN’s designation of 10 March is much more than a celebration of those who currently occupy the position.  It is recognition of the tenacity of those who fought to strengthen the judiciary by the inclusion of women; it’s the inspiration for the young girls who aspire to one day assume the role; and it challenges us to do more, because, in the words of The Hon. Judge Vanessa Ruiz, President of the International Association of Women Judges:

“better decisions result when not all deciders look and think alike”

1 UN Resolution

2 AIJA Judicial Gender Statistics

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