May 16, 2024

Justice-affected women in war: Case studies from Yemen, Sudan and Ukraine

The event will feature discussions with experts from Sudan, Yemen, and Ukraine, sharing insights on the effects of war on women and the importance of legal empowerment, legal aid, and police support in these contexts. The event aims to foster international solidarity and action towards improving access to justice for women in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.

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May 16, 2024 | 2:10–3:00 p.m. (ET) | Vienna International Centre (VIC), Room MOE79

Organized by Penal Reform International and supported by Australia, the Czech Republic, the European Union, the Ministry of Justice of Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, and the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the International Legal Foundation, and Pathfinders for Peace, Just and Inclusive Societies

Download the concept note here

According to the World Bank’s 2023 report, 17 countries identified as conflict-affected, with an additional 20 suffering from high levels of institutional and social fragility. Notably, there are strong linkages between injustices and conflict. The Justice for All report notes that “[b]y driving exclusion and fuelling grievances, injustice increases the risk of political instability and, as in the Arab Spring, violent conflict”. It also shows that “Fair and effective justice systems play a vital role in reducing the risk of violent conflict”.

Among these 37 fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS), there are around 602,705 individuals in pre-trial detention or serving sentences, with 14 of these countries experiencing prison occupancy levels exceeding 150%. Criminal justice systems in these settings are often overwhelmed, compromising the safety and rights of women, whether as suspects, defendants, detainees, or prisoners. These injustices weaken the trust between people and the state institutions, impacting the social contract and is likely to contribute to further conflict and fragility.

Despite being a minority within the overall prison population, women face significant obstacles in accessing gender-sensitive programs and services, hindered by conflict, inadequate facilities, and systemic legal failures. This side event will explore the challenges faced by women in Yemen, Sudan, and Ukraine, highlighting the impact of armed conflict on their access to justice and treatment within the criminal justice system.


  • Noon Kashkoosh, Lawyer, Ruman Rights Advocate, and Gender Expert from Sudan
  • Senior official at the Ministry of Interior from Yemen
  • Olivia Rope, Executive Director, Penal Reform International
  • Dr. Katie Mead, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the UN and International Organisations in Vienna
  • Taghreed Jaber, Moderator, Regional Director for Middle East North Africa, Penal Reform International
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