ICCA celebrates International Women’s Day
As tweets, posts, and news blasts of “Happy Women’s Day!” reverberate through the media today, ICCA would like to add its own message to the myriad voices celebrating and championing gender equality.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is ‘Balance for better’, an idea that will be familiar to international arbitration practitioners thanks to the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge. The Pledge was established in 2015 and seeks to address the under-representation of women on international arbitration tribunals. As an NGO with the mission to promote knowledge of international arbitration globally, and a signatory to the Pledge, ICCA takes this opportunity to share some of the ways in which we work towards bettering the balance.
ICCA’s biennial Congress is the single largest conference dedicated to international arbitration, and a platform for dispute resolution specialists to discuss and debate the latest topics in the field. Programme Committees for all ICCA Congresses are encouraged to consider gender and geographic diversity when selecting speakers to ensure a well-rounded, globally relevant programme. Our recent Congresses thus all feature an even mix of women and men on the programme.
ICCA’s projects provide opportunities for members of the arbitration community to contribute to critical debate on dispute resolution practices. Currently, half of our projects are chaired by women and we are committed to bettering the gender balance across all projects going forward.
The Young ICCA Mentoring Programme is yet another opportunity to promote gender equality in the field. And so when selecting participants for the programme, the Mentoring Programme Coordinators take gender into account in making selections.
As an organization, we are proud to be able to commit to an initiative like the Pledge and provide women in arbitration with opportunities they might not otherwise have. We are also very proud that our own Governing Board includes some of the leading female voices in international arbitration. We leave you with some of their messages of triumph and encouragement on this International Women’s Day.
I salute all women arbitrators on International Women’s Day. After many years of participating in domestic arbitration proceedings, it still took a while before I got my first international arbitrator appointment, as a sole arbitrator in administered proceedings. The institution’s secretariat were great in guiding me through the procedural aspects, but being a sole arbitrator is a very lonely job, and heartburn-creating for a first timer. Thankfully my award passed the institution’s quality control processes, and then survived setting aside proceedings! After that, opportunities for further appointments were not long in coming. So to younger women, I say, perseverance is key. Focus on gaining experience in the domestic arbitration arena, while gaining international exposure through membership of ICCA.
- ‘Funke Adekoya SAN, Partner, AELEX
My “break-through” moment in law (so far!) was being appointed Secretary-General of ICSID - a job I almost didn’t apply for because I thought I had no chance of being selected. So, it will not come as a surprise that the advice I would share with young professionals is not to second-guess yourself, but just to step up and do it. I know it sounds like a commercial for runners, but it is still really good advice.
- Meg Kinnear, Secretary-General, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
Young women are often faced with challenging moments in their career when they all but give up. A new wife, a mother of a first born, an exciting career – all lead to many moments of despair. But the answer is: These moments pass. And if you keep the passion, win a few laurels, let the profession continue to inspire you, these are your real breakthroughs.
- Zia Mody, Senior Partner – AZB & Partners