Conference of the Council of Europe
Gender Equality Commission

Kursaal Congress Centre, Kornhausstrasse 3
Bern, Switzerland
15-16 October 2015

Women’s limited access to justice is a complex social phenomenon that combines a series of inequalities at the legal, institutional, structural, socio-economic and cultural levels. Ensuring access to justice implies providing women of all backgrounds with access to fair, affordable, accountable and effective remedies so that women and men can enjoy both equal rights and equal chances to assert them. The concept of access to justice covers contact with, entry to and use of the legal system. It is more than simply ensuring the efficiency of justice systems. It is about ensuring the sensitivity and responsiveness of such systems to the needs and realities of women, as well as empowering them throughout the justice chain. Reducing the impact of obstacles faced by women not only facilitates greater accessibility, but is also an essential step towards achieving substantive gender equality.

This Conference is the third in a series of three events on women’s access to justice organised by the Gender Equality Commission of the Council of Europe. The first event, in December 2013, focused on the access to justice of women victims of violence. The second event, in June 2014, focused on the gaps in research and data regarding women’s access to justice. The third event will take account the results of the first two meetings and will focus on the measures needed to address persistent barriers to women’s equal access to justice, including through the work of member states, international and regional organisations, as well and non-governmental organisations.