October 16, 2019

Bridging the Gender Gap in International Law: meet the Women in International Law Network

In the picture current Board Members of the Women in International Law Network: Marija Stajic-Radivojsa Legal Adviser, Serbian Embassy in the Netherlands, Katharina Kofler Legal Adviser,  Austrian Embassy in the Netherlands, Yukiko Harimoto, Legal Adviser, Japanese Embassy in the Netherlands, Ana Cristina Rodriguez Pineda Chef de Cabinet and Principal Legal Advisor, United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and Antonia Pereira de Sousa External Relations and Cooperation Officer, International Criminal Court. 

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The field of Law is still, be it on a national or international level, a predominantly male dominated territory. How can that be changed? How do women gain traction, tipping the scales towards a more balanced environment, fostering a culture of support and awareness for the potential and the achievements of women, bringing about positive social change? 

This is something the ‘Women in International Law Network’ aims to further. The WIL for short, is an informal network which aims to empower women in the field of law in the Netherlands by bringing them together to foster professional and personal connections. Established in 2017, it provides a forum to enable women to share information, experiences, ideas and knowledge to bring about positive social change and promote gender equality in the field of law.  

Women in International Law

The Network was created by legal advisers from the Embassies of Australia, Austria, Canada, Israel and Switzerland, as well as the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia Chef de Cabinet.

The current board members include the legal advisers of Austria, Serbia and Japan, as well as the Chef de Cabinetand Principal Legal Advisor of the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the External Relations and Cooperation Officer of the Registry of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Network includes more than 300 members, and keeps growing with every new event. It is open to mid-level to senior female officials, experts, advisers and academics working in international law in the Netherlands. Men also participate in some of the events facilitated by the WIL.

Since the Network’s establishment several high-level events have been organized and held. Two discussions around the topic of Harassment at the Workplace, how to confront it and all the challenges revolving this issue. The most recent event on this topic was hosted by the Embassies of the Republic of Serbia and Israel, in July 2019. Several high profile speakers, such as the President of the Staff Union of the ICC Ruth Frolich, the Staff Welfare Officer of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Paola Paoletti, and the Coordinator for Safe Working Environment from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gerda Vrielink, enriched the agenda. 

An event at the University of Leiden on the Fight against Gender Inequality with UN Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights Kate Gilmore to mark International Women’s Day in 2019 inspired and enhanced awareness on the need for all to play an active role to fight against gender inequality in a populist world. Moderated by Professor Patricia Sellers, Special Adviser of the ICC Prosecutor on Gender, and with an introduction by Professor Helen Duffy, the event allowed for the possibility of empowering women who are at different stages of their professional life, engaging with the subject at an early stage. 

Earlier this year a panel discussion celebrating the New Female Voices in Legal Academia was held at the Austrian Residence in The Hague, inspiring fascinating and rich dialogue and co-facilitation from young female researchers on various and ground-breaking fields of international law, including the responsibility of social media companies regarding human rights violations and litigation around achieving sustainable fisheries.

Women in International Law Network

In the previous year’s events such as a mock debate on the (in)effectiveness of Gender Quotas, discussions on Gender barriers in the Workplace, a movie screening on Women’s Suffrage, as well as hearing from guest speakers on Women in Leadership in the field of International Law, grew the Network and paved the way for more events and possibilities for connecting with strong, successful women in the field.  Social gatherings also have allowed members to mingle in a more casual environment and exchange views and experiences. 

All the panellists are exceptional and successful women in strong positions, who have asserted their place in their fields of work and who are now able to pass on their experiences and help shape the future of women in international law.  The Network benefits in particular from the rich and diverse community of women working in and around international law in The Hague, an international hub for international peace and justice, and thrives thanks to this strong and enabling environment. 

The Network is active on its LinkedIn page (Women in International Law (WIL) Network), where information on upcoming events can be found, as well as articles and reflections related to the overall goal of the Network; it is also present on Twitter with the hashtag #WILnetwork 

Anyone interested in becoming a member can send an e-mail to womenilnl@gmail.com  indicating their name, e-mail and organisation/position, and/or ask to join our LinkedIn page.

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