Opening remarks by Bruce Gosper, ADB Vice-President for Administration and Corporate Management, at the Asia-Pacific Conference on the Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems, 23 May 2022
Honorable Justices, distinguished speakers, respected guests and friends, warm greetings from Manila.
I speak after two amazing women with powerful insights on the global pandemic of violence of women and girls and I am grateful for their inspiring words and tremendous dedication.
Indeed – violence in all its forms restrains women and girls rights and opportunities in life globally. No country, culture, or religion is immune. No single factor can explain violence.
It is the complex intersection of a range of biological, cultural, social and political factors with each reinforcing the other.
Changing the trajectory of violence against women and girls requires a multisector and multi-pronged approach.
It requires coordination and partnerships across international organizations, government agencies, civil society organizations and individuals. Including every one of us.
This conference highlights the justice sector and its role.
Despite the important advances in international and national laws and policies – violence against women and girls has not significantly diminished.
Implementation of laws is still weak, there are capacity and resource constraints and there are socio-cultural factors.
It is widely recognized that greater political will and commitment of resources is required at every level.
Supporting gender equality is a top priority at the Asian Development Bank. Gender equality is one of ADB’s key operational priorities under our corporate Strategy 2030. ADB has mainstreamed gender in our projects and programs and we have established targets for gender mainstreaming - with at least 75% of our committed projects to be gender-inclusive by 2030. Strengthened protection from gender-based violence is also a sub-pillar of Strategy 2030’s Operational Priority 2 on Accelerating Progress in Gender Equality.
Furthermore, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ADB has put greater emphasis on mitigating disproportionate impacts on women and girls and on addressing pervasive gender inequalities such as unpaid care and gender-based violence by strengthening specialized clinics and telephone assistance hotlines for survivors.
Moreover - through the ADB Office of the General Counsel’s Law and Policy Reform Program – we work with legal and judicial stakeholders to strengthen the formal justice systems’ responses to violence against women and girls cases to improve their right of access to justice.
The obstacles that need to be addressed include gender stereotypes that prevent women from exercising their rights and impede access to effective remedies, complexity and length of proceedings, delays, and gender-insensitive attitudes and practices and outcomes that result in impunity of offenders. We need to promote survivor-centric approaches.
What is required are justice systems that are dynamic, and open to innovative practical measures that are gender-sensitive and which encourage women to use the formal justice system. These outcomes can be substantially achieved through capacity building and training.
In the past two decades, Asia and the Pacific region has made significant strides in establishing laws, policies and institutional frameworks and in providing capacity building training for the justice sector.
in 2015, ADB launched a technical assistance with program which worked with the judicial system in Pakistan to address gender-based violence cases, through capacity training of judges and prosecutors.
One significant outcome was the establishment of a model gender-based violence court – where ADB assisted with the drafting of the guidelines and practice notes, advised on the physical set-up of the court and trained the judges. With the leadership of the Pakistan Supreme Court, the model gender-based violence court was replicated in over 100 courts across the country.
Building on this great work – last year – ADB launched a new technical assistance entitled the Promotion of Gender-Responsive Judicial Systems – focusing on our Pacific developing member countries and Timor-Leste.
Under this new technical assistance, ADB works with judges, magistrates and prosecutors on developing customized capacity building programs and specialized knowledge resources, as well as exploring special mechanisms for more effective and efficient handling of violence against women and girls (VAWG) cases.
Furthermore, our work recognizes the interplay of personal, situational and socio-cultural factors - so – the technical assistance is supported by a One ADB team comprised of representatives from the Office of the General Counsel, Pacific and Southeast Asia regional departments, and the Gender Equality Thematic Group, along with a dedicated team of experts in law, gender, human rights, behavioral insights and communications.
At the same time – we have convened all of you today – key stakeholders from the formal justice system, civil society, development partners, legal community and advocates – to leverage our collective knowledge, resources and determination – to help eliminate violence against women and girls.
I would like to conclude by thanking all of you for your willingness to come together to exchange experiences and explore solutions.
We have a rich program today and I hope all leave, equipped with useful information and connections that will help advance our work together.
Bula Vinaka to our participants in Fiji and great thanks to all of you who have tuned in from all over the world.