Gender Justice

Gender Justice

ICTJ’s gender justice program seeks to promote truth, justice and accountability for gender-based human rights violations committed in the context of large-scale or systematic abuse.

Women in the village of Svay Khleang, Cambodia, read a book about the ECCC's work. (Brendan Brady/IRIN)

Gender-based violence is often a common element of conflict and authoritarian regimes. In these contexts, impunity for violations against women is pervasive. At the same time, women are often absent or underrepresented in efforts to address such abuse.

Despite increased international attention to the gender dimensions of conflict, gender justice concerns have yet to be integrated in many transitional justice initiatives. Recent examples of truth commission mandates, judicial opinions, and reparations programs have shown little regard for the distinct and complex nature of gender-based violations.

Recent developments in international law on gender-based violations and resolutions (such as UN Security Council Resolution 1325, 1820, 1888 on women, peace and security) have strengthened the international community’s commitment to combating these crimes. However, despite these advances, there has been limited success in prosecuting crimes of gender violence at the domestic or international level.

What Role Can Transitional Justice Play?

Transitional justice mechanisms offer a means to pursue gender justice by revealing gendered patterns of abuse, enhancing access to justice, and building momentum for reform.

Transitional justice mechanisms can assist gender activists to challenge structural causes of gender inequality, by publicly acknowledging the factors that made such abuse possible. Recommendations made by truth commissions and reparations initiatives can challenge discriminatory practices that contribute to women’s vulnerability during repression and conflict.

Transitional justice mechanisms also offer women opportunities to participate in and influence peace-building processes. This can be achieved by ensuring participation of women’s rights groups and victims in shaping and monitoring transitional justice processes.

ICTJ’s Role

ICTJ works to ensure that women’s voices infuse every aspect of transitional justice, and that women have the skills and knowledge they need to meaningfully participate in transitional justice initiatives.

Our research aims to provide new insights into how the gender dynamics of conflict can be addressed by transitional justice. For example, we have examined how sexual minorities are specifically targeted for human rights violations by state actors and armed groups, and how often these victims are invisible in transitional justice processes.

We give technical support to gender activists on the ground, and seek to strengthen their policy influence by linking them to a global transitional justice network.

  • We support local women’s groups to influence transitional justice processes. We provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to do their work. In 2011, we will run workshops on transitional justice for local women’s activists throughout the MENA region.
  • We bring activists together to learn, share ideas and strategies. In 2010, we connected women activists from across the African Great Lakes region at a workshop to discuss transitional justice opportunities and challenges in their countries. Activists used this opportunity to strategize on their engagement in the [ICC Review Conference] in Kampala.
  • We advise policymakers on implementing gender justice initiatives. In 2007, we worked with the Liberian Truth Commission to help draft their gender policy.
  • We share examples of transitional justice in other countries to help craft policies and procedures to address gender-based violence. For example, ICTJ has shared lessons learned from the Peru, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste truth commission experiences with women’s groups and policymakers in Liberia and Nepal. This information was then used to help draft truth commission policies and legislation.
  • We research and analyze global processes to address gender justice. We have developed resource materials to share this expertise with others, including country case studies and an operational handbook on truth commissions.