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Judge Martha Koome standing beside Commonwealth Secretary-General at the launch of the casebook in Nairobi, Kenya

UN recognition for the Commonwealth child and women’s rights champion

2 November 2020

A leading advocate and champion of the Commonwealth's work to end violence against women and girls has won a prestigious UN award.

Judge Martha Koome, member of the Commonwealth Technical Working Group on the Judicial Benchbook on Violence against Women in East Africa has been chosen as runner-up in the UN Kenya Person of the Year 2020 awards.

The award is presented annually to mark UN Day on 24 October and honour individuals and/or an institution for bringing to public notice significant issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals and serve as an inspiration to all Kenyans.

Judge Koome, Justice of Kenya's Court of Appeal was recognised for her advocacy to improve legal rights of women and children in the justice system.

In collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Judge Koome helped facilitate the work on the role of appellate courts in handling violence against women and girls, which is one of the four gender priority areas of the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Justice Koome has exhibited leadership in developing and promoting the jurisprudence of equality and access to justice for vulnerable persons.

“Itis inspiring and a privilege to have the opportunity of working with her to serve the people of the Commonwealth - and more widely. We are grateful for her service to law,  to Kenya, the Commonwealth and to vulnerable people throughout the world, and most particularly to children.”

In 2015, the Commonwealth Secretariat worked with judicial officials in East Africa to develop a judicial bench book. For sustainability, a Technical Working Group was established to steer the validation and launch of the benchbook in 2016 and the development of a casebook in 2019.

Justice Martha Koome is part of the group, and provides leadership on the processes through which the Commonwealth Secretariat harnesses judicial leadership to support rule of law interventions in the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Secretariat collaborates with a broad range of rule of law officials across the Commonwealth to build capacity and strengthen legal frameworks and institutions for tackling violence against women and girls.

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