The second working group for the development of a HELP course (Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals) on Ensuring Women’s Access to Justice took place on 30-31 May 2018 in Strasbourg. It brought together a group of three legal experts with the e-learning designer, the regional project “Strengthening Access to Justice for Women Victims of Violence in the Eastern Partnership Countries” and the Council of Europe HELP Programme.
With a growing recognition that the laws, procedures and judicial mechanisms have been traditionally designed without taking into account differences in women’s and men’s experiences, there has been progress in promoting legislative and policy reforms. However, many challenges still remain, including the capacity of legal professionals to incorporate relevant standards and practice in their work.
Elisabeth Duban, one of the legal experts of the working group, pointed out that “access to justice for women is a very relevant and critical problem in all societies”. Individuals have different experiences with the justice system and women suffer disproportionately negative effects simply due to their gender. It is therefore essential that legal professionals at all levels throughout Europe not only address the multi-fold barriers that women face in accessing justice, but take action.
This HELP course is aiming to enhance the competences of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and members of civil society, on relevant Council of Europe, United Nations and European Union standards on women’s human rights and gender equality, to apply relevant case-law and learned from established good practices. It gives them practical tips on facilitating change from within the justice system. The course’s interactive and direct style allows legal professionals to access a tailor-made curricula focused on the latest developments and research in the field.
The general English course will be accessible for free on the HELP online platform. Its completion is planned for the second half of 2018. National adaptations of the course will be developed and launched in 2019.