Recap: Justice from a Gender Perspective

December 7, 2021

On December 2, the webinar “Justice from a Gender Perspective(link is external)” was held with guest speaker Professor Arancha Garcia del Soto as a means of discussing experiences of women and ethnic minorities that have gone through different forms of violence in their societies. The event was co-sponsored jointly by the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies, European Studies Council, and the Program on Peace and Development. For the webinar, Del Soto, who has worked with victims of war and structural violence since 1993, prepared a presentation focused on three main “case studies” as a means of presenting the impact of gender roles on pre-established notions of patriarchal societies.

The first of the three examples presented was the ethno-political Balkan conflict that happened in the 1990s. In this section of the webinar, del Soto discussed the Srebrenica massacre, where the death of thousands of Bosnian men aged from sixteen to sixty-five led to a destruction of cultural heritage. As a response, the Women’s Court in Sarajevo was established many years later, “with the goal to make women’s truth visible beyond the state borders;” which in this case are the testimonies of mothers of the boys who had been killed during the aforementioned massacre. The speaker gave several examples of the war crimes that have been tackled at the Women’s Court, as well as recommendations for the progress that still needed to be made, which included “a larger focus on education rather than militarism.”

The speaker discussed The Permanent People’s Tribunal in Rome, Italy as having given recognition, visibility and a voice to the peoples suffering violations of their fundamental rights. The tribunal, consisted of an international network of experts practicing interdisciplinary research, did not “have many ongoing cases around gender,” according to the speaker, with currently only three main cases. Nevertheless, the case regarding Migrant Rights was presented as an important means of tackling the problem of sexual trafficking and labor exploitation, where the speaker presented the issue of exiled women becoming “in debt to their smugglers,” hence being exploited thereby. Another issue raised was the denial of the request for international protection of LGBT+ individuals, who were told to “hide their sexual preference and gender identity” instead of being given further support.

The importance of making exiles and diasporas visible was presented by the speaker through the third main example of the webinar—the Colombian Colectivos de Mejeres. Following the Colombian conflict, the Colombian Truth Commission was established, which for the first time had tackled the topic of “Exile”, hence presenting a way to collect testimonies of exiled individuals as well as collective cases. In a unique feature of the talk, the presenter showcased a music video as an example of the impact woman in exile had in promoting a peace campaign through art. Moreover, del Soto went over the creation of NODOS, a self-sustained organization focused on social support and reaching out to individuals in exile as well as women victimized by societies undergoing political conflict.

The event concluded with a short discussion of the importance of wellbeing of exiled individuals, as well as a 15-minute Q&A during which the importance of further broadening the target audience of these contemporary movements for women’s justice and perspective was discussed.

The webinar was moderated by Professor Maria Jose Hierro from the Political Science department at Yale University.

Written by Din-Ammar Tolj (Yale College, Class of 2025)