IMPOWR (the International Models Project on Women's Rights) is a new initiative to establish a collaborative online database of information on gender-equality law reform efforts around the world. IMPOWR was started in 2008 by the American Bar Association (ABA) and received initial funding from the ABA Enterprise Fund. It is co-sponsored by the ABA Section of International Law, ABA Section of Real Property, Trusts and Estates Law, ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. The essential purpose of the project is to leverage the power of the internet to foster information sharing among the global community of gender law experts, project leaders and other stakeholders to help in the implementation of international as well as national goals for gender and equality. Specifically, IMPOWR aims to provide a rich information resource that will facilitate achievement of the requirements of the 1980 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) ratified by 185 countries, as well as the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness to improve results in development policies, agreed to by 125 countries and the European Commission.
By using the internet to facilitate a broad exchange of detailed information organized in a consistent format, IMPOWR aims literally to empower policy makers, legislators and the judiciary, project directors, financial institutions and academia as well as the legal bar and coalitions involved in gender-related law reform around the world to be most effective. Specifically, the IMPOWR website and database will facilitate:
- Comparison of law reform for gender equality on a country-by-country basis and/or an issue basis, as well as identification and comparison of best practices for successful law reform efforts;
- Access to broad information resources on which national decision makers, donors and practitioners can base gender law reform strategies and resource allocation decisions, including the texts of pertinent laws as well as links to other useful websites and documents on gender law reform;
- Collaboration among non-profits, governments, and other entities working around the world to promote law reform on gender issues.
The IMPOWR website and database serve:
- CEDAW and Paris Declaration countries committed to achieving their obligations;
- Country and field-level implementers and practitioners of legal reform activities looking for examples, best practices and success stories that can enable them to be more collaborative, transparent and effective in their work;
- Academics, high-level policy makers and thought leaders who influence or create policy and methodologies;
- Funding institutions and government agencies that must make decisions about where best to put resources, especially in light of new methods, discovered gaps and emerging needs.
- Men and women who want to know the rights of women: on the books, under traditional and customary law, as enforced and strategies to achieve gender equality under the law.
The IMPOWR website and database will cover over 100 countries. The main feature will be a rich database on gender-related legal issues, laws and law reform efforts, created through wiki technology with information contributed from a broad array of local and international experts. Wiki entries will be organized by country under a standard set of topics in the areas of civic life, healthcare, marriage and family relations, economic and social life, crimes and violence, access to justice and treaty obligations. The searchable wiki database will describe the current state of law in each topic area, the role of law enforcement, law reform projects that have been undertaken and the role of civil society as well as community traditions in the effectiveness of reforms. Wiki entries will include robust links including to the texts of pertinent laws through access to the Library of Congress Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) and other sources as well as to additional information on law reform projects and other useful websites and primary and secondary source documents including articles, books and project reports. In addition to the wiki database, the IMPOWR website will also include a directory of experts and an open forum on issues of current interest.
We invite participation in the IMPOWR website and database by organizations involved in gender reform projects around the world. Organizations actively engaged with IMPOWR in developing features of the website and database can be identified as an IMPOWR resource partner.
International and local organizations may participate in the design and development of the IMPOWR website and database by:
- Participating on the wiki design committee and contributing information about projects, initiatives, best practices and focus areas;
- Encouraging local partners to submit project information; and
- Collaborating in the legal and judicial reform gender network.
For more information about IMPOWR, contact:
International Projects Director