April 7, 2011

Virtue Foundation hosted 50 judges from 20 countries at the United States Supreme Court and State Department during Senior Roundtable for Women and the Judiciary, March 31st – April 1st, 2011, Washington, D.C.

On March 31st and April 1st, 2011, Virtue Foundation hosted the Senior Roundtable on Women and the Judiciary in Washington, D.C. in collaboration with the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, the International Association of Women Judges, Lawyers Without Borders, and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School. The Roundtable convened approximately 50 women judges representing 20 countries from all regions of the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan co-hosted the Roundtable’s opening cocktail reception at the United States Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also attended the event in celebration of women judges. Moreover, Ambassador Melanne Verveer and Newsweek and Daily Beast’s editor in chief Tina Brown welcomed these women global leaders from around the country and across the globe.

The Thursday evening reception was followed by a day of panels and working sessions at the National Museum of Women and the Arts. In particular, Judge Ann C. Williams of the United States Court of Appeals of the 7th Circuit and Justice Koome of the Kenya High Court joined Dr. Joan LaRovere of the Virtue Foundation to discuss survey results on barriers to women’s entry and advancement in the judiciary. Then, Chief Justice Georgina Wood of Ghana, Justice Elena Highton de Nolasco of Argentina, and Justice Gita Mittal of the Delhi High Court in India gave thought-provoking case study presentations on the barriers and potential solutions to improving gender parity in the judiciaries of their respective jurisdictions. In the afternoon, judges shared experiences and solutions in judge-led Roundtable discussions toward increasing opportunities for women to enter and advance in judiciaries globally.

On Friday evening, the Roundtable closed with an exciting Newsweek Daily Beast Women in the World segment on “Social Innovation, Africa and the Role of Women Judges,” featuring Chief Justice Georgina Wood, Judge Ann C. Williams, Dr. Ebby Elahi of Virtue Foundation, and Kakenya Ntaiya of Kenya, hosted by Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and moderated by Andrea Mitchell. The reception closed with remarks by Harold Koh, Legal Advisor of the United States Department of State.

“Statistics show that investing in women and girls has an incredible ‘multiplier effect’ for economic and social advancement,” said Dr. Joan LaRovere, Co-Founder and Vice President of Virtue Foundation and Director of Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at The Royal Brompton Hospital, London. Supporting women leaders through training, sharing success stories, and funding promising projects has become many organizations and individuals’ goals as demonstrated through recent successful gatherings of global women leaders, including the Newsweek & Daily Beast’s 2011 Women in the World Summit held in New York City in March.

“Over the years, the Virtue Foundation has come to recognize the important role that judges, especially women judges, can play in sustainable development and the strengthening of rule of law by contributing to an impartial judiciary and by implementing and enforcing laws, particularly those that provide access to justice for women and girls,” added Dr. Ebby Elahi, Associate Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology, Oculofacial Surgery and Global Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Director of Fifth Avenue Eye Associates, and Director of International Programming and Global Health at Virtue Foundation. “This Senior Roundtable seeks to convene and support women judges who we believe are strong leaders and agents of change toward improving access to justice, rule of law, and sustainable development.”

In addition to these initiatives, Virtue Foundation launched the Institute for Innovation and Philanthropy in Ghana, a new model approach to sustainable development and community advancement for Africa and globally. In collaboration with Her Ladyship Chief Justice Georgina Wood of Ghana, this Institute will serve as inter-disciplinary collaborative hub for institutions and individuals seeking to employ data-driven high-impact solutions in the areas of medicine, education and justice.

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