The Bolch Judicial Institute has named the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) as the 2023 recipient of the Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law in recognition of the organization’s remarkable efforts to evacuate, support, and resettle Afghan women judges who, because of their gender and work as judges, have faced persecution and violence since the Taliban took control of the country in late 2021.
The IAWJ will be honored during a ceremony at Duke University on March 1, 2023.
Under the leadership of New Zealand Supreme Court Justice Susan Glazebrook, president of the IAWJ and the association’s Afghan Support Committee, the IAWJ mobilized member judges from around the world to assist Afghan women judges in the days leading up to and the months following the collapse of Afghanistan’s democracy in August 2021. Recognizing the particular dangers Afghanistan’s women judges face under Taliban rule, IAWJ members have worked — and continue to work — tirelessly to secure safe passage out of the country for the judges and their families and assist them in obtaining visas and relocating to countries where they can rebuild their lives and careers.
“The IAWJ has led an extraordinary rescue operation, bringing more than 100 Afghan women judges and many of their families to safety and continuing efforts to assist those who remain,” said David F. Levi, director of the Bolch Judicial Institute. “The Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law recognizes both the heroism of the IAWJ’s efforts to assist Afghanistan’s women judges and the organization’s long history of supporting and advancing women judges and addressing gender inequities in judicial and justice systems around the world. And in honoring the IAWJ, we also honor the incredible courage of Afghanistan’s women judges, who broke barriers and risked personal safety to try to build a better future for their country and now call on the international community for help as they work to rebuild their lives.”
“The IAWJ has worked for decades to surmount the numerous obstacles women judges face around the world,” said Kerry Abrams, dean of Duke Law School. “From gender-based discrimination and legal structures that subjugate women to professional hierarchies that force women into limited roles, women in judicial positions face many barriers, in all corners of the world. Through mentoring, partnerships, educational opportunities, and global outreach, the IAWJ created a network of members around the world who have worked together to address common challenges, to support one another in overcoming barriers, and to strengthen the rule of law. That network also put the IAWJ in an unparalleled position to provide on-the-ground help to Afghan women judges when they suddenly needed to flee their collapsing country.”