New Perimeter assists with research for the Justice for Women Amidst COVID-19 report

New Perimeter, DLA Piper's nonprofit affiliate focused on global pro bono, provided research support to The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and helped to produce a report documenting challenges to women’s access to justice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Krantz Fellow Jean Gabat (Philadelphia) and Claire Rucker (Chicago) worked on the report, which was later published by UN Women, IDLO, UNDP, UNODC, World Bank, and The Pathfinders for Justice, with support by the Elders.

Jean and Claire talk about their experience working on the project.

What impact did working on this research project have on you? 

Jean: Working on this report has been an enlightening and essential exercise in comparative public policy. I learned not only about the extensive effects of COVID-19 on women's access to justice around the world, but also, and more importantly, what measures countries have taken in response. I knew the information we had gathered was tremendously important; to our knowledge, that data had not been compiled into one resource before then. Knowing that I was using my skills to potentially help women affected by the pandemic across the globe impacted me in more ways than one.

In a broader sense, after researching the various ways in which countries are using technology to safeguard and increase access to justice, I became even more convinced that universal internet access is needed now more than ever.

Claire: Each of us is experiencing various disruptions in our daily lives due to COVID-19, but viewing this disruption through a gender-based lens brought to light specific, tangible threats to women’s access to justice. Researching and collaborating on this article both enhanced my recognition of the distinct challenges women across the world are facing and led to a feeling of fulfillment, in that our work intends to advance women’s access to justice and promote gender equality. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to engage in documenting important, urgent impacts of the pandemic that may not have otherwise been fully acknowledged.

What impact do you hope it will have for women?

Jean: Women must face special challenges and overcome unique obstacles on any given day, and that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Here and abroad, women have been affected by such issues as diminishing access to legal institutions, increasing domestic violence, growing injustice to women workers including frontliners, and discriminatory laws. This report highlights these and myriad other issues and sets out policy recommendations to protect women's rights during this time. My hope is that policymakers heed this advice, and that lawyers gain insight on how to use their special positions in society to ensure access to justice for all.

Claire: It is my hope that this article will raise global awareness of the unique challenges women are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how those challenges, and the importance of addressing them, affect our broader communities. Global catastrophes often disproportionately impact women, particularly women of color, so this work is of critical value. By highlighting the threats to women’s access to justice, outlining the current state of justice systems across the world and providing reasoned policy recommendations, I hope we can encourage and motivate stakeholders to prioritize gender equality and women’s rights in responding to COVID-19. Now more than ever, women’s access to justice must be emphasized, promoted and upheld.

What drew you to this project?

Jean: I care deeply about supporting women's advancement and increasing access to justice in underserved regions around the world. Realizing that the pandemic was further weakening already fragile legal institutions, I was determined to help shed light on these issues and explore possible solutions. The New Perimeter team never fails to undertake compelling and powerful projects, and this time was no different. To have worked on this wide-reaching report with such an incredible team was an enriching experience that, like so many during these times, I will not soon forget.

Claire: I feel a call and a responsibility to serve and improve our communities and I am particularly passionate about advocating for survivors of gender-based violence. This project offered a powerful opportunity to advocate for gender equality and women’s rights in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to justice for women is critical, particularly during times of crisis when access to legal services and other forms of justice is compromised. I believe that it is our professional obligation as lawyers to advocate for those in need; in doing so, we can encourage others to advocate, too, and effect change across multiple levels.

Gabat_Jean_NP Rucker_Claire_NP

Jean Gabat                               Claire Rucker