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Fast-Tracking Women's Inclusion in Decision-Making Systems High-Level Event in #Geneva

On 5 October 2023, SAHR in partnership with Swiss-based Giving Women Philanthropic Network held an event in Geneva titled "Fast-Tracking Women's Inclusion in Decision-Making Systems". The event was held to generate momentum in view of the forthcoming General Recommendation 40 of CEDAW on the same.

We were so honored to have a panel with some formidable women tackling the topic of Women's Inclusion in decision making to End Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).


Women leaders are the primary forces for peace, stability, and sustainable development. However, throughout history and until today, women and other underrepresented leaders have been massively excluded from political life and decision-making systems.

In the area of access to justice, the lack of gender-competent laws and policies and practices impedes effective investigation and punishment of SGBV perpetrators. Deep-rooted gender inequality and patriarchal norms create significant barriers to reporting crimes and accessing justice. Survivors of sexual violence often face stigma, discrimination, and victim-blaming.

Legal frameworks across the world fail to adequately address sexual violence as a crime. In addition, justice actors lack the specialized skills, knowledge, and resources needed to conduct investigations with a gender approach and at the same time, pre-empt, prevent and address retaliation and reprisals that so often occurs.


Women and diverse leaders are already at the frontlines of change in their various respective roles as lawyers, police officers, judges, defense lawyers, investigators, prosecutors and law-makers. Yet gender-based violence remains a critical issue across the globe, necessitating effective strategies to ensure justice for survivors.


How do we resource and prepare women and diverse leaders, to end SGBV globally. How do interventions in these roles facilitate greater access to justice?

#CEDAW Vice Chair Bandana Rana; the Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Priya Gopalan ; movement specialist Chandni Dhingra; SheDecides Champion Malayah Harper and SAHR Founder Natasha Latiff shared searing examples and lessons about the barriers that women face in entering law and policy making spaces, whether they are structural, societal, cultural, economic, political or intersectional. We learned that true progress requires dismantling these barriers, addressing systemic inequalities, and ensuring that women's voices are not just heard, but actively sought and valued.


This discussion was powerful. Multiple people recounted that they were moved, confronted, challenged and inspired throughout the evening. The stories of resilience and courage from our panelists, the populations we serve, the advocates and organizations we learn from and support - it reminded us that progress is not only possible, but achievable, through collective action.

Key areas of discussion:

  • SGBV laws or policies that still remain gravely unresponsive to survivors’ lived experience of violence.

  • Transformative changes required to increase women and diverse people's access to justice.

  • Changes in international and domestic laws that have aided or allowed for crimes of SGBV to be charged and prosecuted.

  • Capacity building of civil society leaders to improve the quality of their engagement in law or policy-making spaces.

  • Exclusion and inclusion of underrepresented women in law policy-making spaces - with the United Nations and spaces internationally.

  • Intersectional feminist leadership and its practical applications in our collective work to fast-track the inclusion of women and diverse persons in decision-making systems.


We would like to thank SAHR Board Chair Kelsi Kriitmaa for a seamless and thoughtful moderation; the members of the SAHR Board; Giving Women and Kathleen Holmund for the partnership we created towards the event and the insightful opening remarks by the Ambassador from Singapore Umej Bhatia and Atalanti Moquette, founder of Giving Women. A big thank you also to our SAHR team members Lara Danani & Catalina Domínguez F. as well as to the amazing catering service, Nik's Fudo Geneva, and talented photographer Marc Bader.


The commitment to fast-track women's inclusion in decision-making processes to end SGBV should be a continuous endeavor, not just a momentary conversation.


You can learn more about the momentum around the CEDAW General Recommendation No. 40 on equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems here.

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