International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to reflect and celebrate women in the legal profession. It is also an opportunity to catalyse change.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ with the stated aim that when we inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, we forge a better world.

Women in the law have made significant progress since the first women were called to the Bar and the first women were admitted as solicitors, both in 1922. Just over a hundred years later, we have the first woman to accept the newly titled role of Lady Chief Justice, as President of the Courts and Tribunals of England and Wales and Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales.

However, there is still a long way to go. The most recent census by the Ministry of Justice shows that women constitute 39% of barristers, 53% of solicitors and 77% of chartered legal executives. However, the proportion of women is notably lower for those having 20 or more years’ experience. In the judiciary, 35% of court judges are women and around 50% of tribunal judges are women. For the most senior judges, in the High Court and above, the figure is only 30%.

We do better when we help each other succeed. That is why Society of Labour Lawyers offers a mentoring programme to support those interested in a legal career. We run events and debates looking at promoting women’s issues, and we campaign for fairness across society through the law, including promoting access to justice, campaigning work on abortion rights, domestic abuse and work in the family courts.

Labour will be the party to help end inequality and tackle violence against women and girls. Labour will ensure that women and girls have proper legal protection, including enacting ‘Raneem’s law’ to require police to respond faster to reports of domestic abuse and violence. Yvette Cooper said the law would mark a “step change” in tackling violence against women and girls.

“International Women’s Day is always an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and is a call to action which acknowledges that more work needs to be done. We’ve had women serving in our legal professions and in Parliament for over 100 years but there are still nearly twice as many men as women who serve as Judges and MPs. Our justice system and our politics should set an example, inspiring others to greater equality. The Society of Labour Lawyers will continue to support the Labour Party to fulfil its mission including to break down barriers to opportunity as well as its ambitious and crucial pledge to halve violence against women and girls.” – Catherine Atkinson, Chair of the Society of Labour Lawyers.

Join us in celebrating women’s achievements in the law today, by inspiring inclusion for the next generation of brilliant women lawyers to come, and help us protect and promote women’s legal rights and the right to be free from the fear of violence and domestic abuse.