Engaging the Judiciary in Asia
Jurisprudence and standards developed by the judiciary have significant effects on holding governments accountable and providing an enabling environment for people to enjoy their reproductive rights. The judiciary plays a crucial role in identifying gaps in existing legislations and policies and providing opportunities for the government to improve them. Moreover, the judiciary provides remedies and redress for reproductive rights violations on individual cases and establishes norms and standards which results in a body of jurisprudence that guarantees and advances reproductive rights protections.
The Center has pioneered engagement with judges and judicial training institutes in South Asia to become SRHR champions and to recognize reproductive rights as fundamental human rights essential for gender equality. The judicial work focuses on training, resourcing, and equipping judges and other actors within the judicial system to respect, protect, and fulfill sexual and reproductive rights and stem the tide against regression on SRHR.
In September 2019, the first South Asia Regional Judicial Colloquium on Reproductive Rights was organized in Kathmandu, Nepal bringing together judges and judicial training academies from five countries in South Asia, namely Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Regional Judicial Colloquium was organized to create opportunities for shared reflections and discussions on the specific role of the judiciary in protecting reproductive rights of women and girls in Asia. The key objectives of the colloquium were to share judicial trends and best practices, including in tackling complex reproductive rights issues in the region; to reflect on the use of constitutional and international human rights standards by courts to protect and secure reproductive rights across the region; to identify opportunities for judges across the region to have a sustained dialogue on reproductive rights and creating a regional discourse on reproductive rights; and to reflect on the role of national judicial academies in providing judicial trainings on reproductive rights. The SARJAI Working Group on Judicial Engagement was a key partner for hosting this colloquium.
A recent external evaluation concluded that the Center’s judicial engagement increased the number of reproductive rights champions within the judiciary in the targeted countries and created conditions for court decisions and policy changes that protect SRHR as fundamental human rights. The evaluation also found that the Center’s judicial engagement is closing the gap between important actors in advancing gender equality and SRHR, including UN and regional human rights and local stakeholders, and has created and responded to demand among judges for greater skills and resources to address SRHR.