Thursday, March 7, 2013
"Mediation without borders," a project by Sharia Walker '12 (MA Peace and Justice Studies), is a confirmed entry for the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. "Mediation without borders" aims to train Saudi female lawyers in mediation skills to expand their professional capacity within the judiciary. Ultimately such skills will allow them to advance their rights beyond the legal system.
Please vote today. Finalists will be announced April 8, 2013.
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About Mediation without borders:
Only this year, 2012, have Saudi women been permitted to practice law. Although there are female professionals in the field, their participation in the legal sphere remains subjected to severe limitations. By offering mediation training we aim to boost women’s involvement in and beyond the legal system.
In 2011 the Monarch of Saudi Arabia, regarded by many as a reformist, announced a groundbreaking royal decree allowing women to vote and to run for office at the municipal level. However, even with such changes, there remains much to be done for Saudi women to stand equal in the society.
Given the recent developments in Saudi Arabia, there could not be a better timing to introduce such services. Swift reforms are underway and there are many vacuums that can be filled.
One reform of cardinal significance initiated by the King is the revamping of the justice system, and Saudi women lawyers are struggling to be included in the process. Women seek, specifically, to gain social recognition to practice law within the judiciary. On February 16th, 2012, the Minister of Justice, Dr. Al Isa, issued a statement explaining that in light of the reforms initiated by the King, the Ministry of Justice will be creating reconciliation centers in which female lawyers will be allowed, even encouraged, to work.
The Saudi society is a relatively new society, hardly one hundred years old. It cannot be denied that globalization and technology have posed great threats to its traditional and conservative lifestyle. Thus, it is necessary for transformation to come in small steps as opposed to drastic, overnight changes. Mediation is one of the tools that could allow this to happen. We believe in incremental and strategic progress. We believe that by providing women in Saudi Arabia with mediation and reconciliation skills and certification we will create a platform for their empowerment and growth.
Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies