Why we grant the Gender Justice Awards?

The Awards were created by the organization Women's Link Worldwide to recognize that the comments made by judges and the courts have a strong influence on the sense of justice and the daily life of all people in countries across the world, whatever their political system or religious traditions and beliefs.

Women's Link Worldwide sees the courts as an instrument in which civil society initiates a dialogue with judicial authorities regarding how rights should be interpreted, what their impact is on people's day-to-day life and the ways in which they delimit legislative and executive activity. It is from this perspective that these Awards were born.

What do the Awards recognize?

  1. Sentences or decisions issued in the context of a judicial process - be it national, regional or international - by judges, members of committees or commissions that monitor human rights treaties through individual cases, or members of asylum and refugee boards or offices.  Written decisions by public prosecutors or ombudsman offices acting within their capacities to review violations of rights can also be considered.
  2. Sentences or decisions that have had a positive or negative effect on gender equality, such as, for example, decisions regarding sexual and reproductive rights, gender violence, equality in family relations, and gender discrimination.
  3. Sentences or decisions that were issued in the preceding year. 
  4. The Awards commend or denounce judicial decisions. In no event should they be considered a recognition or denunciation of the judges themselves, or of the trajectory of a particular court or committee.

What Awards are presented?

There are two classes of Awards: one positive and the other negative.

The Gavel Awards are allocated to judicial decisions that promote gender equality. It is a favorable Award that aims to highlight those judicial performances that protect and guarantee the right to equality and protection in the face of discrimination.

The Bludgeon Awards are allocated to judicial decisions that are retrograde and discriminatory. It is a “negative” Award, that is to say, it is a reproach of judicial performances that are based on stereotypes and prejudices about gender roles, sexuality, and reproduction.

In both categories four distinctions are drawn:

  • Gavel Awards: A highly qualified jury will select the winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Gavels and the People’s Choice Gavel Award is chosen by voters of the public on our web page. 
  • Bludgeon Awards: The jury similarly decides on the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners of the Bludgeon category with the People’s Choice Bludgeon Award chosen by voters of the public on our web page.

How to nominate?

Nominating is quick and easy. Just click on the button "Nominate" and fill out the form.

During the votation period, nominations are closed.

How nominated cases are selected?

Any person, from any part of the world, can nominate a judicial decision for an Award.  Submitting the form on our web page, indicating if it is for a Gavel or a Bludgeon, is all it takes.

It is not necessary for one to have actually been involved in a case to nominate it, as long as sufficient information is provide for us to be able to verify both the facts and the legal information of the case. 

Each nomination is reviewed and verified by the Women's Link team prior to its acceptance and publication on the web page.

Women's Link reserves the right in all cases to admit or reject any case nominated and, additionally, to decide the category within which it competes, be it Gavel or Bludgeon. 

Who chooses the winners?

Gold, silver and bronze Gavels and Bludgeons are selected by an international jury made up of three members.

The People’s Choice Awards are chosen by a majority of the votes received online.

How do we select the members of the jury?

Every year, the Women's Link working group invites outstanding personalities known for their commitment to the defense of human rights and social justice in different areas, to participate as members of the jury.

We ensure that the jury includes women and men from different regions of the world. 

Although we prioritize judges, lawyers, and academics involved in law or feminism, we also try to include other professionals such as journalists, writers, doctors and artists. We understand that the task of monitoring the courts should never be exclusively left to legal professionals, on the contrary, given that is it is a matter of respect for human rights it can be carried out from any sphere.

How are the winners of the jury Awards chosen?

Once the nominations close, the jury has a period of time to deliberate and choose the winning decisions in both categories.

The winners are then decided based on the majority vote. The decision of the jury do not need to be unanimous. 

No member of the Women's Link team takes part in the independent jury's deliberation process.

How are the winners of the People's Choice Awards chosen?

The People’s Choice Awards, in both the Gavel and Bludgeon categories, are chosen by majority of votes. Anyone is able to vote directly through our web page.

How to vote?

Voting is easy. Just select the case you want to vote for, click on the “Vote” button and fill out the form.

You can vote for all the cases you want and as many times as you’d like, but you can only vote for the same case one time per day. This means that on the same day you can vote for different cases but only submit one vote for each of them. If you want to vote again for a case, you have to wait until the next day.

During the nomination period, before the votation period, it is not possible to vote.

How to use the Gender Justice Awards?

1. The Gavel Awards are a tool through which civil society organizations are given the opportunity to congratulate and promote decisions that advance gender equality protections.

Thus, for example, nominations in the Gavel category have served to distinguish positive sentences and judicial decisions that defend a woman's right to abortion, safe maternity, equality in employment, protection from gender violence, sexual violence, harassment and international gender crimes. They have also highlighted sentences that protect the right of all people to egalitarian marriage, to one's own gender identity and to adopt and form a family through access to reproductive technologies without discrimination together with decisions which protect the dignity of intersexual people.

2. The Bludgeon Awards are a tool for denouncing judicial decisions that perpetuate and legitimize prejudices and stereotypes surrounding issues of gender, gender roles, sexuality, and reproduction.

Consequently, nominations under the Bludgeon category have served to denounce sentences that support notions that women who wear provocative clothing cannot be raped; that the fetus must be protected even at the cost of the physical and mental integrity of the woman; that allow wage discrimination and discrimination in promotions; that do not recognize or offer protection from gender and/or domestic violence and decisions that generally judge the conduct of women on the basis of moral standards. Such decisions deny women their autonomy and freedom, sometimes advocating chastity, fidelity, modesty and submission as the most valued or desirable female conducts, or similarly contending that women’s innate characteristics are comprised of a lack of leadership, manipulation, vanity, superficiality, and falsity.

This category also condemns the sentences that deny the right of all people to freely assert their sexuality and live free from discrimination and persecution, for example, sentences that fail to punish the crime of hatred against homosexual and transgender people, essentially functioning as a justification for such conduct.

Social organizations around the world have used the nominations to congratulate (gavel) and to denounce (bludgeon) judges: Nominating cases of which they are aware of cases on which they have worked. Voting for decisions and encouraging other people to vote by organizing voting campaigns, sharing the Awards through social networks or the media, writing blogs, and distributing newsletters about the Awards and the website to their contacts.


About the Gender Justice Observatory

Some of the cases nominated for the Awards later become part of the Gender Justice Observatory of Women's Link. Concurrently, the Awards serve as a mechanism through which the Observatory is made accessible and fun for those interested in gender equality issues.

The Gender Justice Observatory is one of the programs of Women's Link Worldwide.  It maintains a free online database of jurisprudence that contains case summaries in English and Spanish, as well as the complete texts of judicial decisions that have established a significant precedent on gender issues.

The documentation of judicial decisions issued by national, regional and international courts around the world fosters creative and innovative strategies and legal arguments for the implementation of human rights standards, and has the great advantage of offering a regional and global comparative perspective that serves to support the work of human rights activists, students, people in the academy and judicial authorities.

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