Translation Speech of HRH Princess Basma bint Talal on the occasion of International Women′s Day – Women′s Access to Justice: Prospects and Perspectives.
8 March 2015
On the occasion of International Women′s Day, it is with much affection and pride that I salute Jordanian women from all walks of life for their efforts in building our country′s future, as true partners of men.
I also commend every Arab woman who is struggling for her family, under the prevailing circumstances, to achieve justice, dignity and security.
I am delighted to be with you today at this very important conference on Women′s Access to Justice, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of International Women′s Year, as well as the 20th anniversary of the Fourth International Women′s Conference in Beijing, which was a global turning point in the history of women.
That brings us to the question: Where are we now, and where do we stand in relation to these two milestones in the history of women′s rights?
The past decades have witnessed great achievements in the struggle led by women, and aided by men who share the belief that all people, men and women alike, are vital, and that they can only be a positive force in their communities if they are secure in their dignity, freedom and rights.
These are guarantees that can only be realized if they are part of a culture which has formulated and adopted them as moral and legal principles.
It is now an internationally recognized principle that women′s rights are human rights. Efforts to empower women and eliminate all forms of discrimination against them are in fact a reaffirmation of human rights, and a necessary condition for societies to attain the rule of law and open participation in civic life.
Human rights must be codified in law, clearly and specifically, at the international and national levels. But this alone cannot guarantee the full enjoyment of rights. There must also be respect for the very principles which inform the law. The state can validate these principles by providing judicial and administrative protections, and viable means of recourse.
We must therefore direct our national efforts to enhancing the concept of the independent judicial authority, as called for by His Majesty King Abdullah II. A judiciary that is independent, integral, effective, and efficient, befitting a progressive society which upholds human rights and freedoms, and prohibits their violation by any party—be it individual, group or authority.
Yet if we focus on the reality of women′s lives, we note that there are still many intertwining challenges, especially in matters of access to justice. Many women simply do not have the necessary information, due to lack of awareness or understanding of the law. This prevents them from advocating for themselves.
Moreover, many women do not have the resources to pay for legal and judicial services. This is where the role of civil society organizations that offer pro bono legal counseling comes into play, notably the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development – ARDD Legal Aid. I would like to extend my gratitude to you for organizing this important conference. Your constant and constructive efforts are deeply appreciated.
Women face other hurdles as well, arising from a lack of information, throughout the justice system, on what constitutes a violation of the human rights of women. There are also those who question the credibility of women as a victim or even a witness. This makes women reluctant to approach the system as a whole for fear of being stigmatized and ostracized by their communities. It is difficult for women to access justice, and hence, respect for the rule of law remains a mere, elusive notion.
Because of this, many women believe that justice is unattainable. So we must make a clear show of willingness to transcend traditional limits, and support women′s access to justice to ensure their human rights. The road to equality is long and formidable. We should not expect women to walk it alone. The road requires both men and women to take it together, side by side.
Let us keep up the momentum the world has witnessed for forty years now, and make equality a reality. Let us continue to weave the principles of gender equality into our social fabric, our policies, and our practices, in line with this year′s global campaign, “Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Step it Up!”
God bless our efforts, both women and men, as we continue to make great changes for our beloved Jordan.