Marie Claire’s International Women’s Day Panel 2019, in partnership with Salesforce and United Nations Human Rights, was a truly inspiring evening
Last night, Marie Claire, in association with Salesforce and the United Nations Human Rights, hosted ‘We’re Greater When We’re Equal’ to celebrate International Women’s Day. Taking the form of a groundbreaking panel event on the subject of how the UK justice system is failing victims of gender-based violence, the night welcomed four experts in their fields, who spoke alongside Hollywood actress and campaigner Amber Heard.
Her impassioned keynote speech echoed the mood of the night, reminding us that reform of the justice system and better policy are ‘critical in making a difference in the lives of women’, and highlighting the work of her close friend, activist Amanda Nguyen, who ‘secured the passage of the landmark Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act in the U.S’.
Amber went on to encourage the audience and panel to continue the fight for equality, ending her speech with the inspiring cri-de-coeur: ‘We have inherited far too much to be resigned to accept injustice and together we are much too strong to excuse it any longer’.
Following this powerful introduction, Marie Claire’s Editor-in-chief Trish Halpin led a fascinating discussion with the panel on what the UK needs to improve on in order to better provide justice for women who are victims of gender-based violence. Joining her was qualified barrister Jennifer Nadel, Head of European Operations at Justice & Care Cristina Gavrilovic, campaigner Sammy Woodhouse and defence lawyer at 25 Bedford Row and mentor Sheryl Nwosu.
The panellists discussed various aspects of the justice system and how they can be improved, with Sammy Woodhouse calling for people to start ‘treating victims like victims’. She went on to add that she ‘recently saw a headline saying that an 11-year-old girl slept with one hundred men,’ correcting it to say: ‘No, an 11-year-old girl was raped by one hundred men.’
The importance of providing victims with support was compounded by Cristina Gavrilovic, who added, ‘It’s about changing the mentality, [so] that the next generation won’t think “I’ve been raped but I can’t tell anyone.”’
The panel also discussed the court’s role in this, with Jennifer Nadel adding that, ‘Many women who have been through the trial process will say they were the ones who were being scrutinised in the dock, not the rapist’. This was emphasised by Sammy Woodhouse, who was frank in admitting, ‘When I went to court it took a piece of my soul, and I’ll never get that back.’
Sheryl Nwosu examined the gender-based issues within the justice system from another angle, specifically bullying within the profession and ‘male judges bullying younger female counsel…’ She went on, ‘I have a thick skin but sometimes I leave court [and] I feel battered, I feel shocked.’
Sheryl went on to highlight the importance of the evening’s panel, saying ‘Discussions like this empower women, empower young women to find their voice and strength so whether they find themselves in a compromising position professionally or personally, they are empowered enough to speak up for themselves or find a woman to speak up for them.’
Huge thanks to our panellists, Amber Heard, Salesforce and United Nations Human Rights for supporting this utterly inspiring evening.
Happy International Women’s Day.