Independent panel of judges announced to head tribunal examining discrimination against women

Dr Jocelynne Scutt. Pic credit: Cambridge Labour Party

The campaign to introduce a comprehensive bill of rights for women by implementing in full the UN Convention for the Elimination of all Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) takes a major step forward this weekend.

Five high profile women -one a former judge – have agreed to serve on the panel which will sift evidence to be presented at the CEDAW People’s Tribunal later this year presided over by John Cooper, QC, a human rights lawyer,.

CEDAW is “like motherhood and apple pie” – John Cooper QC

John Cooper said the issue should not be controversial – ” it is like motherhood and apple pie”.

He said the tribunal should have three main goals – independence, transparency and authenticity.

” There are three main areas to investigate: Why CEDAW has never put into UK law; whether there was any good reason for not doing so, and most importantly, to make recommendations on what should happen next.”

The movement to implement comprehensive changes in the law for all women and girls has come from the historic unequal treatment of women and the exposure of poverty and hardship by women born in the 1950s who had to wait an extra six years for their pension. Campaigners pointed out that Margaret Thatcher had signed up to the convention as long ago as 1986 but it had never been properly implemented into UK law -despite Gordon Brown’s government passing the Equality Act in 2010.

Worse the position of the 50s women was just the tip of the iceberg of unequal treatment which covers everything from unequal pay to discrimination in the workplace and women being subject to harassment and sexual abuse and even given poor treatment in jails.

The tribunal will take place as the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales are considering implementing laws to apply the convention – leading to an extraordinary situation where women will have more rights and redress against discrimination and inequality in Scotland and Wales than in England. All this will bring home the issue to the present Tory government whether it wants to do anything about it or not.

The president of the new panel is the Hon. Jocelynne Annette Scutt, an Australian feminist and human rights lawyer and senior law fellow at the University of Buckingham. She has written about money, marriage and property rights and more recently about plastic surgery, women’s bodies and the law. She was Tasmania’s first anti discrimination commissioner and is a member of the Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party. She is a former judge in Fiji.

The other panel members are:

Christine Chinkin

Christine Chinkin, FBA is Emerita Professor of International Law, Professorial Research Fellow and Founding Director of the Centre of Women Peace & Security at LSE. 

She is a barrister, a member of Matrix Chambers. Together with H. Charlesworth, she won the American Society of International Law, 2005 Goler T. Butcher Medal ‘for outstanding contributions to the development or effective realization of international human rights law’. She is a William C Cook Global Law Professor at the University of Michigan Law School.

She has held visiting appointments in Australia, the United States, Singapore and the People’s Republic of China. She is currently a member of the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Panel and was Scientific Advisor to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the drafting of the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

Jane Gordon

Jane Gordon MA (Oxon) LLM (Distinction) is a human rights lawyer with over 20 years’ experience working in human rights legal practice and policy at domestic, regional and international levels. Jane co-founded Sisters For Change with her sister, SFC Executive Director, in 2014. Jane was Human Rights Advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (2003-2008) where she co-devised the first ever framework for monitoring the human rights compliance of the police.

In 2009-2010, she was appointed Human Rights Advisor to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s national policing protest review. Jane has litigated cases of serious human rights violations against Russia, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine before the European Court of Human Rights, and advised national human rights institutions, public authorities and oversight mechanisms in Jamaica, India, Malawi, Iraq, Ireland and across the UK. Between 2008-2017,

Jane was a Senior Fellow at LSE’s Centre for the Study of Human Rights and LSE’s Centre for Women, Peace and Security where she delivered LSE’s practitioner short course on Women’s Human Rights. In 2013-2014, Jane served as gender advisor/SGBV investigator with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. Jane is additionally a member of the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Group.

Aisha Gill : Pic Credit: Putney local website

Professor Aisha K. Gill, Ph.D. (University of Essex) CBE is Professor of Criminology at University of Roehampton. Her main areas of interest focus on health and criminal justice responses to violence against Black, minority ethnic and refugee (BMER) women in the UK, Georgia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Libya, India, Pakistan and Yemen. Professor Gill is often in the news as a commentator on early/child/forced marriage, violence predicated on ‘honour’, and sexual violence in South Asian communities.

Professor Gill has been involved in addressing the problem of violence against women and girls (VAWG) at the grassroots level for the past 21 years. She is invited adviser to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) strategic support group on investigations and complaints involving gendered forms of violence against women in the UK (including domestic violence); member of Liberty’s Project Advisory Group; member of Kurdish Women’s Rights Watch; Imkaan and Chair of Newham Asian Women’s Project (2004-2009). In October 2019, she was invited to join the Victims’ Commissioner’s Advisory Panel, chaired by Dame Vera Baird, QC.

Professor Fareda Banda Pic Credit:Black Female professors Forum.

Professor Fareda Banda, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University.

She joined SOAS in 1996. She has convened and taught English Family law, Human rights of women and Law and Society since then. She has also contributed to various courses including Alternative Dispute Resolution, Law and Development, Law and Development in Africa and Legal Systems of Asia and Africa.  She has supervised PhD theses on topics including children’s rights, sexual violence against women, post-conflict reconstruction and gender. She writes on women’s rights, family law, and, more recently, religion. Fareda has been an active member of the School’s Equality Committee, first in her capacity as the union equality officer and more recently as the representative of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences.

The new panel members are delighted and honoured to be appointed. Dr Davina Lloyd, Chair of the CPT Steering Committee, said:” The well being of future generations is in excellent hands”.

Expect more of this on my blog as the campaign gains momentum throughout the rest of this year.

31 thoughts on “Independent panel of judges announced to head tribunal examining discrimination against women

  1. Brilliant news so pleased to hear this and Thank You

    On Wed, 31 Mar 2021, 7:15 pm Westminster Confidential, wrote:

    > davidhencke posted: ” Dr Jocelynne Stutt. Pic credit: Cambridge Labour > Party The campaign to introduce a comprehensive bill of rights for women by > implementing in full the UN Convention for the Elimination of all > Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) takes a major step forw” >

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  2. What an interesting read!! Let’s hope CEDAW is successful! We 50’s women need some sort of acceptance into working lives!

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  3. Good to hear about this, at long last. Let us hope that you make a difference to the continued inequalities suffered by women in our society. Particularly to the women waiting for 6 years for the pension expected from the State. Thank you in anticipation of your work.

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  4. Thank you so much David for your interest in our plight to have what is our right reinstated. All those women who have worked in retail that have now lost their jobs through the decline of high street shops😭 what is to become of them with no prospect of getting another job? Never mind all of those women who are full time carers who would not leave their loved ones to fend on their own because of the current system of care for disabled and elderly who cannot look after themselves😩

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  5. Excellent news and thank you for yet another well written informative article. With sincere thanks from a 50’s woman in Canada. Your outstanding journalism and dedicated efforts are very much appreciated.

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    • The way I see it ,I’m afraid it probably doesn’t mean much. There appears to be three main questions this Tribunal will be asking. Why Cedaw has never been put into UK Law, Whether there was any good reason (s) for not doing so and recommendations on what should happen next. All valid questions in their own right. However, the fact that the Tribunal seem to only be in a position to make recommendations doesn’t exactly inspire feelings of hope. I sincerely hope I’m wrong but given this Governments and the Courts unwillingness to acknowledge in any way the wrong done to the 50’s Women and their State Pensions, I for one won’t be holding my breath. Either way I doubt we’ll be hearing anything more about this until way into the Autumn at the earliest. Even before Covid the plight and injustice of 50’s Women was never front and centre in the news and it still isn’t.

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      • ” However, the fact that the Tribunal seem to only be in a position to make recommendations doesn’t exactly inspire feelings of hope. I sincerely hope I’m wrong”.
        You either a pessimist or a realist? The establishment of such a body is to take the heat out of the situation it allow ministers a get out clause, “the government have set up a panel of (experts) led by a (judge) and then the government sets out limits of the scope of the inquiry.
        Why CEDAW has never put into UK law; whether there was any good reason for not doing so, and most importantly, to make recommendations on what should happen next.”
        Why CEDAW was never put into Law? I am sure Sir Humphrey will have already a reply to that . Good reasons? Of course there be good reasons parliamentary time, important bills, 5 years of Brexit, 5 years before that of setting a balanced budget and social welfare reform which (greatly benefitted women) and by then we are back in the time of the Labour government.
        It actually may come up with some good findings, but does honestely believe that a government who as presided over a pandemic which the PM dismissed as scaremongering and people wanting to go back to protectionism and closed borders while he wanted an open Britain and free trade while the pandemic was heading our way ever going to implement any of its findings forget it, sorry you are living in a different style of politics. Politicians look to their paymasters and if this is going to cost money, then its dead in the water.
        My advice is to keep your momentum going, the government is obviously concerned (electoral reasons) but as for the findings, their remit is so well defined by the government its the equivelant of a detective been allowed to interview people , but is not allowed to gather evidence from the crime scene.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad to see this progressing but to be honest a bit worried that the panel is all female. I’m afraid this might see us as being biased rather than truly independent.

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  7. Given the announcement from Back to 60: “We have received the decision of the Supreme Court and I am sorry to tell you that permission has been refused.”.Messrs Birnberg Peirce Ltd.
    Does this mean that if CEDAW is implemented in British law, courtesy of this committee, 50s women will get the pensions due to them or not?

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  8. Many will think that the case for incorporating Cedaw into UK law is overwhelming. Why then have the Tribunal Steering Committee selected panel members, who by their well publicised opinions and experience are clearly in favour of the very issues they are being asked to adjudicate on? Surely common sense and fairness requires not only that the tribunal must be truly independent and free from actual bias, but also that it must not appear in the objective sense to lack these essential qualities.The whole point of the tribunal is to persuade the government to adopt the tribunal’s findings. Constituted as it is, (stacked), the government will have no difficulty dismissing those findings on the basis that the outcome was plainly decided in advance by a biased panel. Also linking the 1950s women’s pension issue to the tribunal may play well to the gallery but is hardy likely to impress the government; incorporate Cedaw = put pressure on yourselves to find £200bn+ in compensation. It doesn’t help Cedaw doing it this way.

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  9. I am sure it has to happen all the relevant new information that has came through must stand for something come on cedaw we are behind you wonderful news even better if ombudsman also comes up with something he is certinially chewing on something

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  10. Please support what has been a huge injustice to the 50s women robbed of their pensions. I was never notified of any change and then again before my 65th.
    Had to finally give in caring for my mum in law housebound and dementia and my husband diagnosed with prostate disease and pressures at work became unbearable.

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  11. A big thank you to all the people involved, this will protect future women and girls. Once again thank you from a 50s women, who feels there is a great injustice that needs to be put right.

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  12. It is a travesty that the government can have total impunity when it comes to increasing the SPA to 66 years without a backward glance!
    They are so conceited and I worry for the next generation, the rate they are increasing the age no one will ever be entitled.
    I hope and pray for a positive outcome and some restitution.

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  13. The telegraph have just released that 74000 more married women pensioners are getting back dated payment of £23000 paid to them the government realised the mistake, how have they found that money, what is going on, why r the 50s women being discriminated all the time, can somebody answer that one

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    • I’m with you on that one Rhj. The discrimination is ongoing and relentless. Unfortunately the minute the Labour Government back in ’96 thought it a good idea to increase the retirement age for 1950’s women it became Law and that was that. Then every subsequent Government since then used continuing age increases to compound the pain. Last one being George Osborne in 2014 when he thought what a lovely money saving exercise it would be to increase it to age 66. I believe at the time he was reported as saying that it was ‘the easiest money he’d ever saved’. So it doesn’t matter which political party is involved, they’ve all jumped on the bandwagon and put no real effort into righting this terrible wrong. I for one will never vote again because you can’t trust any of them. Jeremy Corbyn dipped his toe in the water during the last election, but to be honest he had about as much chance of winning as I did. So in the end all their words mean absolutely nothing.

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  14. Hi David My real reason for being negative was to get a response, I feel some of them think its a step forward to me its like kicking the ball into the long grass and playing for time hoping by the time, Does anyone believe that this government cares about anyone but themselves 

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    • I agree, it does feel like kicking the ball into the long grass. If we were talking about men’s pensions, you could say it was just a kick in the balls!

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  15. I am British and 64. My late husband was Dutch, he sadly died in Oct 1999 aged 46. He’d worked in the Netherlands for 19 1/2 years and 9 1/2 years in the UK. I’ve worked in the Netherlands for 10 years and have 1 year more to work then I’ll have paid a full British NI stamp.
    In 2011 the Dutch changed their State pension law to no longer allowed Widow’s living and contributing outside the Netherlands, to receive their late husband’s Dutch state Pension.
    I believe this is also an infringement and discrimination and it should be looked at under CEDAW. Please can you draw these ladies attention to this to. For me it feels like a double whammy. I’ve tried writing to anyone and everyone possible in both countries, to no avail.
    Lizzie Kerkhof-May
    ljkm07@yahoo.co.uk

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  16. So today Boris as wasted 2.6million on a TV press room which now is not being used, what a waste of British money, and a kick in the teeth for the 50s women. That could have gone forward to the back to 60 women for there pensions or compensation
    What a absolute disgrace

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: CEDAW People’s Tribunal: Links for hearing announced | Westminster Confidential

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