The Second All-Ukrainian Forum of Women-Lawyers “Women in Legal Profession: Visibility, Advocacy, Influence” Began

The Ukrainian Women Lawyers Association holds the Second All-Ukrainian Forum of Women-Lawyers “Women in Legal Profession: Visibility, Advocacy, Influence” with support from the USAID New Justice Program jointly with the Ukraine-Canada Project “Affordable and Qualitative Legal Aid in Ukraine” and “Support to Judicial Reform Project” Canada.

The Forum united over 200 female lawyers from entire Ukraine and became a platform to consolidate female leadership in the legal profession and to encourage female lawyers to advocate gender equality in the justice system and facilitate systemic changes in the sphere of women’s rights protection.

“Gender equality influences how we consider issues of justice, rule of law, and human rights. You, who are at the forefront on these issues and working diligently for positive change, understand this well,” USAID Regional Mission Director to Ukraine and Belarus Susan Fritz addressed the Forum participants.

Ms. Fritz stressed that Ukraine has made significant strides forward in creating equal opportunities for men and women in many spheres of life. Ukrainian women today can work in all professions and trades. Ukraine has passed legislation combating gender-based violence, and improving survivor rights and protections. But more remains to be done. “We are always interested in other ways to promote and strengthen gender-related policies and practices. We look forward to new ideas generated at this Forum,” pointed out Susan Fritz.

Key topics of the Forum are public and internal communications, advocacy campaigns to protect women’s rights, specifically, the right to enter the legal profession and visibility of women lawyers in the professional community.  Women – judges from courts of all instances and jurisdictions including the Supreme Court, Members of the Parliament, representatives from ministries, attorneys, human rights champions, and experts on gender matters – discuss ways to enhance government gender policies.  They will develop components of a strategy to improve visibility of female lawyers and gender-sensitive professional communication skills. The participants representing various spheres of human rights protection activities in Ukraine, Canada, and USA share their successful experience and ideas.

The USAID New Justice Program engaged the international experts, Ann Walsh Bradley, Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, member of the Board of Managerial Trustees of the International Women Judges Association, Victoria Pratt, procedural justice expert and former Chief Judge of Newark Municipal Court, New Jersey, USA, and Deborah J. Vagins, Attorney, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and Research, American Association of University Women, Washington DC, USA, so that they could share the US experience in the sphere of women’s rights protection and provide practical recommendations on advocating gender equality and challenging negative gender stereotypes for the purpose of disseminating best practices in the Ukrainian legal professional community.

The Forum will foster development of cooperation between Ukrainian and international professional scenes uniting female lawyers.  As Ms. Bradley mentioned, women’s and girls’ rights are human rights in the first place and then feminism. That is why joint efforts are so important. “Therefore, our goal is to humanize the law rather than to feminize it since equal rights are important for men and women alike,” emphasized Justice Bradley.