Ending violence against women

Increasing women’s access to justice

While there have been remarkable advances in women’s legal rights in the last century, access for women to effective, responsive, accessible and fair justice systems remains limited. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has stated that gender-based violence and discrimination against women – based on gender stereotypes, stigma, harmful and patriarchal cultural norms – have an adverse impact on women’s ability to access justice on an equal basis with men. This lack of access to justice constitutes a flagrant violation of women’s human rights.

The UN Women Egypt Country Office (ECO) has adopted a holistic approach to increase women’s access to justice based on three main pillars: 1) enhancing legal and justice services to be effective, gender-responsive and accessible to women; 2) establishing gender justice specialists and advocates in the penal chain; and 3) raising legal awareness of women’s rights and mechanisms to increase their accessibility.

From 2015–2016, the UN Women ECO supported the integration of national services provided by different government sectors to end violence against women and girls. Based on this, the Ministry of Justice announced its commitment to lead – together with the National Council for Women (NCW) – the integrated government strategies. Furthermore, the Ministry announced a number of important steps to eliminate violence against women and girls, such as:

  • creating special courts to increase the accessibility and responsiveness of justice to survivors
  • including violence against women as a topic in the curriculum of the National Center for Judicial Studies
  • forming a committee to study cases of domestic violence and to formulate laws to combat it
  • establishing a committee of doctors from the Forensic Department and specialized agencies, to express their opinions about whether female genital mutilation results in a permanent disability (which would allow for higher punitive measures against perpetrators).

Based on these strategic entry points and the existing partnerships with the Government, academic institutions and civil society, the ECO will continue to deepen its work to achieve women’s full access to justice.

This project was implemented with the generous support of the Embassy of Japan in Egypt.