Promoting Gender Justice within the Clinical Curriculum: Evaluating Student Participation in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign
AbstractThe 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which runs annually from 25 November (The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day). The campaign aims to raise awareness of and stimulate action to end violence against women and girls globally. The issue of gender violence has gained worldwide prominence in the last few decades with the emergence of legislative frameworks including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Istanbul Convention. More recently, there has been a policy focus on education as a tool for raising awareness of gender-based violence. The recent public unrest regarding sexual harassment, epitomised by the ‘#Me too’ and ‘Times Up’ movements, demonstrate that gender-based violence remains an everyday reality for many women and girls. In England and Wales, there has been an increase in applications to the Family Court for domestic abuse protection, however this has come at a time where cuts to the availability of legal aid have led to concerns about the ability of survivors to seek access to justice. During the 2017-2018 academic year the authors designed and delivered a range of teaching activities for clinical students as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign. The aims were to increase student engagement with issues of gender justice and develop their understanding of the different forms of gender violence, the domestic and international frameworks for protecting victims and the roles that different organisations play in achieving this. It was hoped that this would better prepare students for the realities of family practice in England and Wales. Surveys and a semistructured interview were used to gain insights into the student experience of participating in the campaign. This article will address how their participation went some way to meeting the objectives set out above in that students demonstrated increased knowledge of civil and criminal law relating to gender-based violence, developed their critical lawyering skills and competency in working with vulnerable clients and contributed to wider efforts to advance gender justice. Further the article will draw on the ancillary advantages of participating in the campaign, including improved client outcomes and reputational benefit. The limitations of the 16 Days campaign will also be acknowledged along with ideas for developing the programme in the future.
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