Thank you very much for my virtual scholarship to the International Association of Women Judge’s annual conference. Three years ago, access to this event was a far-fetched dream, which on the weekend became a reality. The expertise, confidence, passion and inspiration from the women and men who spoke was amazing. It confirmed what I want to do career wise and why I am here. To be a judge, yes please, but a criminal/human rights lawyer definitely. These women and men spoke from their heart and I could feel the passion from their words. Everything they spoke about resonated with me in some way from domestic violence to gender inequality, racism, trafficking, Covid-19 and the sadness of multiple events that have happened and are happening in our world. These speakers gave me hope, they showed me that I will not be in this fight alone and as 1 person I can make change and contribute in many ways to a greater world just as they have.
Watching all the work that has been done on alternative courts and the youth court in Aotearoa by creating a more whanau friendly environment for Maori offenders and any youth who wants to do it this way is exceptional. It shows the youth there is support and that they can change, be fixed and we are not here to destroy them further. I think Whanaungatanga is beautiful and to have this type of Aroha in our court system Is brilliant. It is great that the police, judges, prosecution and lawyers all work together to make this system work.
Zeid Al Hussein really spoke to me and I was astonished by how great he is and everything he has seen and done for human rights, he is a wonderful and composed man. It must be hard trying to solve issues and be held back by the same organisation employing you to do this. One day I aspire to be a human rights lawyer and will always hold his words “keep a sense of humour and laughter is free.”
I have learnt so much from this conference and 500 words is not enough, but I will end with Baroness Helena Ann Kennedy, what a woman. To see such a strong, beautiful, talented, inspirational, funny woman being at the top is definitely a great feeling and if I can accomplish half of what she has I will be content. She has very great points and I learnt about the term ‘misogynistic hate crime’ and how men should be held accountable for their actions, they should. As women we have a long way to go but these great women like Helena have helped us get where we are today and now we need to be the next generation to strive for even better.
Thank you again for an amazing opportunity and I am very grateful. I have taken the first steps to help the world by starting part 1 of my law degree and I cannot wait to continue the fight for all.
Stephanie Loyce Penn