International Women’s Day ‘I dream for women a world that is free of gender bias, discrimination, and ignominy’ – Justice Mathilda Twomey |10 March 2021
The Judiciary of Seychelles examines the subject of ‘women delivering justice’. What do the professionals in this field have to say on women practicing law, and is there equity? They also share their observations and message for all women on this important day.
Justice of Court of Appeal Dr Mathilda Twomey
“I had hoped that the shattering of the glass ceiling when I was the first woman judge appointed in 2011 would have resulted in greater respect for the role of women in the practice of law in Seychelles. Sadly, many women lawyers have reported that shards from that glass ceiling have been used to impale and wound them as they try to engage in this noble profession. The welcome and acceptance of the valid and necessary role of women in law is oftentimes just a veneer under which lurks a male orientated environment replete with lewd jokes, vulgar comments, and pervasive displays of male supremacy. A judge wants a chat ‘man to man’. A lawyer challenges a woman about being in court instead of looking after her children at home. Many women lawyers have confided to me that they are scared to take certain cases because of the fallout which their male counterparts never experience. Some women lawyers have shared stories with me of being followed in their car and threatened when they have taken particularly sensitive cases.
“Yet female students of law and female legal practitioners in these islands today match their male counterparts in numbers. I am convinced more than ever that gender sensitivity training must be mandatory if anything is going to change. But until this happens we must stand together and call out such behaviour each time it occurs. I call on women to join the ranks of the bar and bench to create the tipping point necessary for the transformation of our legal community. We are called especially to be the drivers of change and the defenders of human rights in Seychelles, Africa and the world and I know that together we can rise to the challenge.”
Justice Twomey’s message to all women:
“This year’s theme ‘Chose to Challenge’ is close to my heart and I will push myself to embrace it and live it. I call on all women to do so as well. When we are courageous enough to fight patriarchy, stand up and challenge assumptions and stereotypes, the glass ceilings we shatter and the obstacles we overcome enable our daughters to inherit a better world than ours. It allows them to live a full life and realise their aspirations.
“I dream for them a world that is free of gender bias, discrimination, and ignominy. I dream for them a world where their gender does not define what they are capable of. I dream for them a world where they are respected as equals and not subjected to harassment and abuse and relegated to subordinate positions. Above all, I dream for them, and this is the challenge for me and you sisters, where every woman can be brave enough to call out male hypocrisy about our sexuality, fertility and identity.
“And in the words of Lil Kim and Christina Aguliera: ‘This is for my girls all around the world, Who have come across a man that don't respect your worth, Thinkin' all women should be seen and not heard, So what do we do girls, shout out loud, Lettin 'em know we're gonna stand our ground, So lift your hands high and wave 'em proud, Take a deep breath and say it loud, Never can, never will, Can't hold us down!”
Contributed by the Judiciary of Seychelles