International Development Law Organization

Leading the Way: Women’s Empowerment and Leadership in Customary and Informal Justice Systems

Side Event organized by the International Development Law Organization with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Government of the Philippines, in collaboration with the Stand for Her Land Campaign on the occasion of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Thursday, 14 March 2024
11:30 am-12:45 pm
Conference Room 6, UN Headquarters, New York
Click here to watch the live-stream of the event on UN Web TV.

Customary and informal justice (CIJ) systems play a crucial role in addressing the global justice needs of millions. With women compromising the largest group of CIJ users, not only do these systems help to resolve disputes, deliver justice, and uphold the social order, they can also drive the achievement of gender equality by enhancing women's access to justice and fostering their leadership.

At the same time, a lack of recognition of women’s active participation in CIJ systems can diminish the potential these mechanisms have to promote inclusivity and gender parity, and bring about positive societal transformations. Acknowledging the essential roles women play within CIJ processes involves valuing and harnessing their unique perspectives and capabilities for meaningful change. This recognition is fundamental to creating justice systems that are more effective, responsive and equitable on a global scale.

The event aims to foster dialogue on the challenges and opportunities women face in CIJ systems and identify strategies to advocate for and amplify women's empowerment and leadership within these systems. It will also seek to inspire increased investment and outline actionable steps for a more gender-transformative engagement with CIJ systems.

The session will be informed by IDLO’s Issue Brief on Women’s Participation and Leadership in Customary and Informal Justice Systems, developed with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).


Opening Remarks

Jan Beagle, Director-General, IDLO

Special Remarks

  • Hon. Eseta Nadakuitavuki, Permanent Secretary, Minister for Women, Children and Social Protection, Fiji
  • Hon. Dr. Cedric Alependava, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, Solomon Islands


  • Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Philippines 
  • Hon. Melissa Pope, Chief Judge, Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi Tribal Court
  • Hon. Harrison Omwima Barasa, Senior Principal Magistrate, Engineer Law Courts, Nyandarua County, Kenya
  • Revai Makanje Aalbaek, Senior Adviser on Justice and Security, Crisis Bureau, UNDP 
  • Esther Mwaura‑Muiru, Global Advocacy Director, Stand for Her Land Campaign
  • Irene Ekonga, Director of Programs, Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA)


Jan Beagle, Director-General, IDLO

Interactive Discussion

RSVP by Sunday, 10 March

PLEASE NOTE: RSVP is only required for non-UN Pass holders. Please request a Special Event Pass to attend the event in your RSVP email. 

Learn more about IDLO at CSW68.