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Cross-cutting issues — Gender in the criminal justice system assessment tool


Part 6 of the Cross-Cutting Issues' sector of the Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit, produced by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime.


This Tool helps guide the assessment of gender in the criminal justice system. In conducting assessments of the judicial system’s role in the criminal justice system, the assessor would ideally use this tool in conjunction with other tools in the Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit.

The term “gender” is used throughout this Tool. Gender refers to the particular roles and relationships, personality traits, behaviours and values that society ascribes to men and women. “Gender” refers to learned differences between men and women, while “sex” refers to the biological differences between males and females. Gender roles vary widely within and across cultures and can, and do, change over time. Gender refers not simply to women or men but to the relationships between them. Gender justice is not a special justice system for women but one that authentically serves the various needs of both men and women. The focus on women is due to the disadvantages many women currently face in some environments. 

Historically, and globally, women are underrepresented as actors in the criminal justice system but over-represented as victims/survivors of gender-based crimes: violence, discrimination and harassment. Identifying and understanding the realities of women and men in the community as well as the gender biases that may promote discrimination, limit access to justice and prevent women’s full participation in the criminal justice system underpin any assessment of the criminal justice system and should inform all recommendations for technical assistance.

There is a body of international law that sets out standards for gender justice including: the elimination of discrimination against women; the elimination of violence against women; development of non-discriminatory legislation; the prevention, suppression and criminalizing of human trafficking; gender-sensitive judicial systems; equal participation of women within the judicial system; crime prevention; and, the treatment of women in detention or custodial settings. These standards are reflected in the instruments below and throughout this Tool.