Southeast Asian Judges adopt Guidance on applying a gender perspective in their work

The ICJ today published a General Guidance aimed at assisting judges and others in the justice sector to effectively incorporate a gender perspective in their work.

The General Guidance is especially significant as it reaffirms that customs and traditions should not be invoked to justify discrimination against women.

The Bangkok General Guidance for Judges in Applying a Gender Perspective was discussed and adopted by judges from Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Indonesia, at a gathering in Bangkok from 24 to 25 June 2016, hosted by the ICJ and UN Women.

During the workshop, judges from the four Southeast Asian countries deliberated extensively how best to assist judges in employing a gender perspective in deciding cases before them.

“The Bangkok General Guidance can make a powerful contribution towards achieving gender equality under the law in Southeast Asia,” said Sam Zarifi, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the ICJ. “It is crucial that judges now work to implement this General Guidance in their home countries.”

The idea to initiate the development of th Bangkok General Guidance emerged from the ASEAN Regional Dialogue on Judging with a Gender Perspective, which was held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2015.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines offered to take the lead on the project during that regional judicial dialogue.

“Women have a right to equal treatment and equal protection and non-discrimination under the law. It is our responsibility as judges to ensure that women receive equal treatment in law and in practice,” said Justice Teresita de Castro of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Judges attended several sessions over the course of the two-day workshop, participating in exercises focused on identifying and addressing gender stereotypes.

“Women in the region face many obstacles in accessing justice,” said Roberta Clarke, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at UN Women.

“But judges may be either unaware of these issues or unsure how to address these issues through the legal process,” she added.

The Bangkok General Guidance will make judges aware of means to consider evidence without resorting to gender stereotypes and decide cases based on the principle of equality recognized under international human rights standards, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Recommendations for institutional policies that should be adopted by courts to help them become more gender sensitive and gender responsive are also set out in the General Guidance.


Emerlynne Gil, Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, t: +66840923575 ; e:

Southeast Asia-Bangkok-Guidance-Advocacy-2016-ENG (full PDF, in English)

Southeast Asia-Bangkok-Guidance-Advocacy-2016-BUR (full PDF, in Burmese)

Southeast Asia-Bangkok-Guidance-Advocacy-2016-MON (full PDF, in Mon language)

Southeast Asia-Bangkok-Guidance-Advocacy-2016-SHAN (full PDF, in Shan language)