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Avon 2011 Women and Violence Conference
Avon Global Center 2011 Women and Justice Conference Gender-Based Violence and Justice in South Asia

22-23 October 2011, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India

The Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School held its Second Annual Women & Justice Conference October 22 and 23, 2011, in New Delhi, India.  The conference centered on the theme “Gender-Based Violence and Justice in South Asia.”  The event was co-sponsored by Jindal Global Law School and made possible by a grant from the Avon Foundation for Women. The conference was developed in further collaboration with UN Women, Virtue Foundation, Kriti Team, and the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University.


Welcome Remarks Keynote Address Presidential Address Plenary Session: Addressing Gender Violence in South Asia, Challenges & Successes Parallel Session 1: Using International Human Rights and Comparative Law to Advance Women Rights in the Domestic Context Parallel Session 2: Drafting and Enacting Laws to Combat Gender-Based Violence: A Focus on Acid Violence Parallel Session 3: Economic Empowerment and Gender-Based Violence Plenary Session: Commentaries and Insights from Day One Parallel Sessions Opening Remarks Plenary Session: Comparative Approaches to Advancing Access to Justice for Women and Girls Parallel Session 4: Gender Violence: A Focus on Children and Young Adults Parallel Session 5: Gender and Security in Conflict and Crisis Situations Parallel Session 6: Beyond the Law: Changing Attitudes Towards Violence lenary Session: Commentaries and Insights from Parallel Sessions Closing Remarks


Nearly 200 judges, advocates, policy makers, scholars, and other stakeholders convened from over a dozen countries for a substantive, multi-disciplinary dialogue on issues impacting gender justice and violence against women and girls.

The main conference proceedings featured ten expert panel discussions, a presidential address by Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Ranjana Desai (Supreme Court of India), and a keynote address by Indira Jaising (Additional Solicitor General of India and CEDAW Committee Member). Fifteen judges from seven countries then met for a Judges’ Colloquium to continue the conversation and exchange perspectives on the judges’ role in ensuring women’s access to justice.

The collaborative spirit of the conference was highlighted through formal sessions and informal networking opportunities, where all participants were invited to contribute materials, ideas, and information about their individual work. Maintaining the focus on advocating on behalf of gender violence, the conference materials were hand-produced by women survivors of domestic violence.

The Center thanks all conference participants for an exceptionally productive exchange of information, energy and ideas.

Day One

Welcome Remarks

  • Stewart J. Schwab (Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, Cornell Law School)
  • C. Raj Kumar (Vice-Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University and Dean, Jindal Global Law School)
  • Anne F. Stenhammer (Regional Programme Director, UN Women, South Asia Regional Office)
  • Sital Kalantry (Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, Cornell Law School)
  • Sara Lulo (Executive Director, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice and Adjunct Professor of Law, Cornell Law School)

Keynote Address

  • Indira Jaising (Additional Solicitor General of India; Director, Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative; CEDAW Committee Member)

Presidential Address

  • Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Ranjana Desai (Judge, Supreme Court of India)

Plenary Session: Addressing Gender Violence in South Asia: Challenges & Successes

  • Panel Chair: Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Ruma Pal (former Judge, Supreme Court of India)
  • Mariya Basher (Chief Prosecutor, Herat Province) (Afghanistan)
  • Hon’ble Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane (Judge, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka)
  • Sapana Pradhan Malla (Member, Constituent Assembly; Gender Advisor to the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers; Founder, Forum for Women, Law and Development) (Nepal)
  • Smita Premchander (Founder and Secretary, SAMPARK) (India)

Parallel Session 1: Using International Human Rights and Comparative Law to Advance Women’s Rights in the Domestic Context

  • Panel Chair: Y.S.R. Murthy (Associate Professor and Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights Studies and Assistant Dean for Projects and Institutional Development, Jindal Global Law School) (India)
  • Hon’ble Madam Justice Desiree Bernard (Judge, Caribbean Court of Justice) (Guyana)
  • Sara Hossain (Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; Legal Aid and Services Trust) (Bangladesh)
  • Jyoti Sanghera (Representative, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) (Nepal)

Parallel Session 2: Drafting and Enacting Laws to Combat Gender-Based Violence: A Focus on Acid Violence

  • Panel Chair: Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum (Program Director, Virtue Foundation) (United States)
  • Aparna Bhat (Advocate, Supreme Court of India)
  • Elora Chowdhury (Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, University of Massachusetts) (United States/Bangladesh)
  • Valerie Khan (Chairperson, Acid Survivors Foundation and National Director, Groupe Developpement Pakistan) (Pakistan)
  • Dr. Terri Kelly (Adviser, Acid Survivors Trust International) (United Kingdom)

Parallel Session 3: Economic Empowerment and Gender-Based Violence

  • Panel Chair: Anne F. Stenhammer (Regional Programme Director, UN Women, South Asia Regional Office) (India/Norway)
  • Bina Agarwal (Director and Professor of Economics at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi University) (India)
  • Govind Kelkar (Senior Analyst, Programme and Research, Women’s Economic Empowerment, UN Women, South Asia Sub Regional Office) (India)
  • Hooria Hayat Khan (Assistant Manager, Legal Support Unit, Shirkat Gah, Women’s Resource Centre) (Pakistan)

Plenary Session: Commentaries and Insights from Day One Parallel Sessions

  • Panel Chair: Hon’ble Ann C. Williams (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States)
  • Commentator from Session 1: Muna Ndulo (Professor of Law, Cornell Law School; Director, Institute for African Development, Cornell University; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States/Zambia)
  • Commentator from Session 2: Monira Rahman (Executive Director, Acid Survivors Foundation) (Bangladesh)
  • Commentator from Session 3: Aanchal Kapur (Founder Leader, Kriti Team) (India)
Day Two

Opening Remarks

  • Hon’ble Ann C. Williams (Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States)
  • Shirin Juwaly (Founder and Director, Palash Foundation) (India)

Plenary Session: Comparative Approaches to Advancing Access to Justice for Women and Girls

  • Panel Chair:Hon’ble Ms. Justice Gita Mittal (Judge, Delhi High Court) (India)
  • Flavia Agnes (Director, Majlis Legal Centre, Women’s Rights Attorney and Legal Scholar) (India)
  • Joan LaRovere (Co-Founder and Vice President of Virtue Foundation; Attending Physician and Director of Innovations and Outcomes in the Cardiovascular Critical Care Program at Boston Childrens Hospital; Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at Harvard Medical School) (United States)
  • Hon’ble John Rowley (Judge, Integrated Domestic Violence Court, Tompkins County, New York) (United States)
  • Hon'ble Justice M. Imman Ali (Judge, Supreme Court of Bangladesh)

Parallel Session 4: Gender Violence: A Focus on Children and Young Adults

  • Panel Chair: Hon’ble Justice M. Imman Ali (Judge, Supreme Court of Bangladesh)
  • V.S. Elizabeth (Additional Professor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore) (India)
  • Savitri Goonesekere (Professor Emeritus, University of Colombo) (Sri Lanka)
  • Hon’ble Virginia Kendall (Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) (United States)
  • B. Bhamathi (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India)

Parallel Session 5: Gender and Security in Conflict and Crisis Situations

  • Panel Chair: Muna Ndulo (Professor of Law, Cornell Law School; Director, Institute for African Development, Cornell University; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States/Zambia)
  • Jamila Omar (Director, Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium) (Afghanistan)
  • Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Sushila Karki (Judge, Supreme Court of Nepal)
  • Vrinda Grover (Advocate) (India)
  • Valerie Khan (Chairperson, Acid Survivors Foundation and National Director, Groupe Developpement Pakistan) (Pakistan)

Parallel Session 6: Beyond the Law: Changing Attitudes Towards Violence

  • Panel Chair: Erica Steinberger (Partner (ret.), Latham & Watkins, LLP; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States)
  • Syed Saghir Bukhari (Regional Alliance Coordinator, MenEngage, UN Women) (Pakistan)
  • Sonali Khan (Country Director, Breakthrough) (India)
  • Hasina Safi (Executive Director, Afghanistan Women’s Education Centre and Executive Board Member, Afghan Women’s Network) (Afghanistan)
  • Joan Winship (Executive Director, International Association of Women Judges) (United States)

Plenary Session: Commentaries and Insights from Parallel Sessions

  • Panel Chair: Sital Kalantry (Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, Cornell Law School) (United States)
  • Commentator from Session 4: Cynthia Grant Bowman (Dorothea S. Clarke Professor of Law, Cornell Law School; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States)
  • Commentator from Session 5: Ratna Kapur (Faculty, Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations) (India)
  • Commentator from Session 6: Priya S. Gupta (Assistant Professor and Assistant Director, Centre for Women, Law and Social Change, Jindal Global Law School) (India)

Closing Remarks

  • Barbara Holden-Smith (Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Cornell Law School; Steering Committee, Avon Global Center for Women and Justice) (United States)

For further information on the conference, please contact the Avon Global Center by email.

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