11 December 2012

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Women’s Access to Justice in Plural Legal Systems

National Component of a Regional Research on Women’s Access to Justice in Plural Legal Systems in one of the following countries: 

Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam

The UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment ofWomen (UN Women) is calling for proposals to conduct national component of a regional research project on women’s access to justice in plural legal systems in Southeast Asia, namely Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam.

In all societies in the region, laws and justice systems are not adequately working for women. Where justice systems reflect existing power imbalances that favor men’s privilege, women’s rights are less protected. Plural legal systems present challenges to women’s access to justice because they often include strands of law that are based on custom, religion and traditional rules and values that restrict women’s rights. When these traditional rules are incorporated into state and non‐state legal and justice systems (such as village courts) women’s rights in the private and domestic sphere, including their rights to live free from violence and make decisions about their sexuality, marriage, divorce and reproductive health, can be limited. The plural legal systems may also limit women’s economic rights including the right to decent work, inheritance and control of land and other productive resources. These legal systems are sometimes procedurally biased against women. The Progress of World Women Report of UN Women noted that the existence of legal plural system in itself can pose particular challenges to women seeking justice as it may create a complex web of overlapping systems in which women can lose their protection or access to rights. Also there are confusions over jurisdictional boundaries, and under-resourced justice systems present barriers to justice for women, especially for those from excluded groups. The challenges for reform of state-recognized and non state legal systems are enormous as they are linked to the complex problems, require state approval and also closely linked with the identity politics.

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