Our Readers' Opinions
November 26, 2013
Judiciary gradually being taken over by women

Tue Nov 26, 2013

Editor: The judiciary is gradually being taken over by women, so much so that an Association of Women, Judges has been formed in Trinidad and Tobago and moves have been initiated to establish a Caribbean Association of Female Judges.{{more}}

Statistics show that, during the past 15 years, there has been a consistent increase in the number of female lawyers in the region. In fact, more than 75 per cent of the graduates from the three law schools in the region, Norman Manley Law School of Jamaica, Hugh Wooding Law School of Trinidad and Tobago and the Eugene Depuch in the Bahamas, are of the fairer sex.

And while the number of female lawyers is increasing significantly, the women are moving into the judiciary and other senior legal positions in the region. It might be surprising to jurists and Caribbean readers that 11 of the 17 judges in the Eastern Caribbean are women, including the Chief Justice Janice Pereira, and two female Court of Appeal judges. All three Masters are also women and so is the Chief Registrar and several Registrars.

Jamaica is also dominated by a large number of female judges, headed by the Chief Justice Zeila Mc Calla and over in the Bahamas, Dame Joan Augusta Sawyer served both as Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal of her country. Trinidad and Tobago also has a significant number of female judges, which prompted the establishment of the Association. Chief Justice of the twin island republic Ivor Archie said that the newly formed Trinidad and Tobago Association of Women Judges (TTAWU) must be commended for advancing women’s issues, including domestic violence and human trafficking.

Archie observed that the TTAWU is working diligently towards establishing a Caribbean Association of Women Judges to ensure the rights of women and children were adhered to and equality for all citizens before the law. He noted that one in three women in the region will experience domestic violence and added that “we need men and women who are committed to making a social difference with issues. TTAWJ’s mandate is totally in sync with initiatives like gender, ethnicity, child abuse and trafficking issues that concern women and children have been brought forward. It is up to judges to play an import part in national development,” the Trinidad and Tobago Chief Justice stated.

Guyana does not have as many female judges as its Caribbean counterparts, but it is dominated by female lawyers, maybe about 75 per cent, so much so that Justice Desiree Bernard, who was the first female Head of the Judiciary in Guyana and the Caribbean was instrumental in establishing a Female Lawyers Association in the Republic 25 years ago. Justice Bernard is now the only sitting female judge in the Caribbean Court of Justice. She has been in the regional court since its inception in April 2005. She goes into retirement in March next year.

Oscar Ramjeet