By Lusha Chen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 8 2013 (IPS) - On the sidelines of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Huairou Commission (HC), on March 4th, organised a panel discussion on women’s access to justice.
Sponsored by UNDP and coordinated by HC, women from over 70 communities in seven countries across Africa for over a year engaged in a participatory action research on local obstacles to women’s access to justice and new bottom-up models to remove judicial bottlenecks.
These 70 groups are dealing with issues ranging from domestic violence to HIV/AIDS, care for handicapped children and social development. Through their research, they revealed contradictions and gaps in legal frameworks that prohibit women’s access to justice — findings which they have built upon in their collective responses, including the training of community paralegals and watchdog groups.
The results of their research will further influence future policy-making within UNDP.
Shorai Chitongo, representing Ray of Hope Zimbabwe, an organisation dealing primarily with domestic violence, was among the panelists that participated in the research, along with local headman Gilbert Tendai Mungate, who talked about their collaboration. The panel was chaired by Randi Davis, Officer in Charge of the UNDP Gender Unit.