Madiha Ali

I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the International Association of Women Judges biennial conference. Getting this opportunity at such an early stage of my law degree really helped strengthen my drive and passion for continuing my degree. Being able to see up close the inspiring women judges and their passion for justice and fairness really refreshed my purpose for choosing to study law. Right from the beginning of the conference which started with the the powhiri all the way to the last day, it was an experience full of learning.

One of my highlights from the first day was the powhiri. Coming from a different cultural background and aspiring to make New Zealand a home, it was really touching to experience the beauty of the Maori culture. Furthermore, I found the topics covered on the first day in regards to the indigenous people really insightful. I was able to learn ways I can acknowledge and respect the people of the land and at the same time, learn how to uphold the principles of the Te Tiriti as an individual. The highlight from the second day was the Inspirational Young New Zealanders. All of the four speakers spoke very powerfully and I was grasping and absorbing every word. I deeply connected with most of what Sara Ather spoke about since being from the Muslim community myself, I was able to relate to everything she said. Grace Stratton’s talk gave me a whole new perspective in thinking about access to justice to people who are disabled which previously my own privileges hindered me from thinking about. I was also very intrigued by Fili Fepulea’i-Tapua’I’s talk about climate change. Her passion for what mattered to her was so clear in every word she spoke and it just transferred to the rest of the room. In addition to that, I also found the conversation about Afghanistan and the role of the women judges very courageous. It made me think about how passionate these judges are about justice that they are ready to risk their lives every single day just to make sure that justice is being served to the rest of their country. These are the role models that I want to look up to in my law career. From my third day, the highlight for me was the topic around refugees and trafficking. Coming from a refugee background myself, I am very passionate about refugee laws and issues so I found the conversation very interesting.

Furthermore, although I have social anxiety I still enjoyed the networking. I was able to meet other law students from across New Zealand and connect. At the same time, being able to meet the judges that we normally read judgments of in person was a great experience, especially the Chief Justice and Justice Susan Glazebrook. In general, it was an amazing experience and it only strengthened my desire and passion to make a difference in the world and bring change.