Online Forum Allows Female Judges to Share Experiences

Approximately 400 legal professionals from the Middle East and North Africa participated in the ACJLS e-forum.

Approximately 400 legal professionals from the Middle East and North Africa participated in the ACJLS e-forum.

October 2009

 In late August, early September, approximately 400 judges, lawyers and law students from the Middle East and North Africa viewed and participated in the sixth Arab Council for Judicial and Legal Studies (ACJLS) e-forum, which focused on women and the judiciary in the Arab world. The online forum featured live chat with both proponents and opponents of women serving as judges, personal testimonies from and interviews with prominent female judges, and a video discussing the challenges of women judges.

The forum is part of an initiative to provide increased access to rule of law experts, which is funded by the British Embassy in Amman and the U.S. Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative. Among the videos presented was an interview with Jordanian Judge Taghreed Hikmet, who currently serves on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Other female judges from the Arab world, including Iraq and Syria, also provided personal testimonies about their careers. Judge Karen Klein of the U.S. District Court of North Dakota discussed initiatives to promote the appointment of more women to higher judicial positions to diversify the bench.

On the first day of the e-forum, the ACJLS hosted a live discussion with Judge Fidaa Al Hmoud, president of the West Amman First Instance Court. Non-governmental organization leaders, future judges and law students from various universities attended the event. Judge Al Hmoud answered questions posed in-person and online. She discussed the right of women to serve as judges and the need for female prosecutors and Sharia judges in the region.

The e-forum continued for two weeks, with discussions focusing on raising awareness of women’s right to assume judiciary positions, the challenges female legal professionals face and the cultural norms that affect women legal professionals. The Jordanian Ministry of Justice assisted the ACJLS in publicizing the forum by posting information on its website and by encouraging female judicial trainees to participate.

To learn more about our work in the Middle East and North Africa, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <>.