Report: Participation of women in the administration of justice

25 July 2021
Issued by
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
To the General Assembly at its 76th session


The report examines the current status of women's representation in judicial systems, identifying the barriers hindering their adequate access to, and promotion and retention in, the judiciary and prosecution services.


Throughout the report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 44/8, the Special Rapporteur documents a number of constraints faced by women in accessing and advancing in a judicial career. Discrimination against women in the judicial system stems from various regulatory obstacles and institutional, structural and cultural barriers that lead to the underrepresentation of women in decision-making positions or to their confinement to certain areas of the judicial system. The report indicates that gender stereotypes are one of the main causes of inequality in the proportion of women judges in the different courts and tribunals, also placing women judges and prosecutors at a higher risk of suffering aggression or various forms of harassment at work.

While acknowledging the progress made by several States in promoting gender equality in the judicial system, the Special Rapporteur warns that the development and implementation of policies to that effect have been uneven and inconsistent. The results achieved – although substantial – are still insufficient. While stressing the importance of gender equality for the equal and effective protection of human rights, the Special Rapporteur underlines that the elimination of discrimination against women will require systemic changes in social structures, which, in turn, call for strong political will.

The Special Rapporteur makes a number of recommendations. These include taking steps in each country to achieve the target of at least 50 per cent of women at the various levels of the judiciary and prosecution services by 2030 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Inputs received

The Special Rapporteur prepared a questionnaire in order to elicit information from civil society organisations on relevant national experiences on this subject. A similar questionnaire has been sent to all Permanent Missions and Observer Missions to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The questionnaire is available in English | Français | Español.

The following States and non-State actors provided written contributions to the preparation of the report.

Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Recent thematic reports
Contact information

Diego García-Sayán
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers
Address: OHCHR-UNOG, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix,
1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006