Miami Law and Partners Host Symposium on Holistic Approaches to Gender Violence



Dean Newton with participants at the Symposium

Reem Alsalem, Melissa Scaia, Interim Dean Nell Jessup Newton, Kalliope Mingeirou, Gloria Estefan, Denisse Córdova Montes

In April 2022, the Human Rights Program and Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, hosted a Gender Justice and Human Rights Symposium: Holistic Approaches to Gender Justice, highlighting innovations in this area and spearheading new connections and creativity. The symposium was a collaboration with the George Washington University Global Women's Institute, U.N. Women, UM’s Institute for the Advanced Study of the Americas, the Lancet Commission on GBV and Maltreatment of Young People, and Miami Law’s Human Rights Society student group. Additionally, the University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review and University of Miami Inter-American Law Review will be publishing a special symposium issue, capturing key insights and deepening analysis.

Grammy-award singer and humanitarian Gloria Estefan provided welcome remarks, speaking candidly about her own experiences and subsequent advocacy and setting the tone for a for a symposium challenging all of us to break the silence and get to zero cases of gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is globally ubiquitous and pervasive, despite decades of efforts to address it. It encompasses physical, sexual, psychological, and economic violence targeting or disproportionately impacting individuals due to their gender or prevailing gender norms. GBV respects no geographic, social, or economic boundaries, although it poses incredibly complex challenges to marginalized populations who experience intersecting discrimination, impacting their safety and ability to access support.

“The need for deep reflection and joint strategizing with regards to GBV is urgent,” said the Human Rights Program’s Faculty Director and Human Rights Clinic’s Acting Director Tamar Ezer. “COVID-19 has exacerbated GBV, leading U.N. Women to dub it, the ‘shadow pandemic.’ Moreover, the Black Lives Matter movement has added new impetus for taking a critical look at our overreliance on criminalization and underscored the importance of holistic responses, greater focus on prevention, attention to intersecting discrimination, and deeper engagement with communities.”

The symposium drew on cutting-edge work from our own backyard to around the world, delving into four dimensions critical for addressing gender-based violence: prevention, systemic accountability, access to justice, and protection of survivors.

It further connected local, national, regional, and global perspectives and featured introductory remarks by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Reem Alsalem; former Inter-American Human Rights Commissioner Tracy Robinson; Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence and Special Assistant to the President Rosie Hidalgo, and Miami-Dade County’s Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, amongst other experts.

Additionally, “The symposium provided a unique opportunity to bridge theory and practice,” said the Human Rights Clinic’s Acting Associate Director Denisse Córdova Montes. “The two-day discussion led to significant local, national, and international policy recommendations that the Human Rights Program will now be working to advance in partnership with advocates and movement leaders.”

The symposium also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Human Rights Clinic, the advocacy arm of the Human Rights Program. “From the first days of the Human Rights Clinic in 2011, Miami Law faculty and students have been engaged in cutting-edge international human rights litigation, domestic policy advocacy, community organizing, and global social movements,” said Professor Caroline Bettinger- López, the Human Rights Clinic’s founding director, now on leave and serving as the Senior Advisor on Gender and Equality with the U.S. Department of Justice. “A decade ago, our clinic hosted a major regional convening, Gender Justice in the Americas. We are thrilled that our students and faculty have once again convened this major international symposium.”

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