Strengthening Advocacy in Women's Human Rights and International Justice


About the Women's Caucus


The Caucus is a network of individuals and groups committed to strengthening advocacy on women's human rights and helping to develop greater capacity among women in the use of International Criminal Court and other mechanisms that provide women avenues of and access to different systems of justice.


  • to incorporate gender perspectives in the ongoing process of setting up the International Criminal Court, and other mechanisms through the involvement of women worldwide in the process
  • to help enable these institutions and instruments to effectively protect and promote gender justice


  1. Work towards coming into existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ensure its responsiveness to the principles of gender justice
  2. Participate in the ICC Ratification Campaign
  3. Monitor and assist the Court to fairly and effectively prosecute cases of gender violence
  4. Promote awareness of the International Criminal Court


The Women's Caucus grew out of the work of a last minute organizing effort of a small group of women human rights activists at the February 1997 Preparatory Committee for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court at the U.N. These women realized that without an organized caucus, women's concerns would not be appropriately defended and promoted.

Building on the work of previous caucuses formed around the Vienna, Cairo and Beijing Conferences, and due to the success of this ad hoc caucus in integrating a gender perspective, in brackets, into the definition of crimes against humanity and war crimes, these women decided to form a permanent caucus which would be part of the CICC but autonomous in its function.

The Goal of the Caucus:

The Caucus tried to get women to become involved from every region of the globe including the developed world. As the Caucus grew and became more structured, three main goals were identified by the more than 300 organizations from around the globe which supported its work. These were:

1) To ensure a worldwide participation of women's human rights advocates in the negotiations of the ICC treaty to lobby for an effective and independent court

2) To take advantage of this opportunity to educate governments delegations and mainstream Human Rights NGOs on their commitments to women and the need to integrate a gender perspective into the U.N.

3) To use this historical event as a means for popular education on women's human rights and raise public awareness of the horrific nature of crimes committed against women

Along with our focus on women's concerns, the Caucus consistently made our views known on issues which are generally not recognized as gendered, such as jurisdiction, independence of the prosecutor, complementarity, cooperation, financing, etc. Nevertheless, due to our limited human and financial resources and because nobody else was doing it, we had to prioritize those issues which were more directly of concern to women in our position papers, in our lobbying efforts as well as in choosing our core principles.

As a result, a broad range of crimes of sexual and gender violence are encompassed in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the Rome Statute contains expansive mandates concerning the participation and protection of victims and witnesses and the staffing of women on the court as well as experts on sexual and gender violence.

Executive Committee

ELEANOR CONDA is a past co-director of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice and immediate past director of the Asian Centre for Women’s Human Rights (ASCENT) based in Manila , Philippines . She has also served as a sub-regional coordinator of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific working around the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. She has done extensive international and national advocacy related to the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action.  

RHONDA COPELON is a professor of law and director of the International Women’s Human Rights Law Clinic (IWHR) at CUNY School of Law in New York City . IWHR has functioned as the Legal Secretariat to the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, which succeeded in writing broad gender provisions into the Rome Treaty creating the permanent International Criminal Court and now serves as Legal Advisor to the Caucus. Prior to joining the founding faculty of CUNY Law School in 1983, she was for 12 years a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City where she litigated a broad range of women’s rights and civil rights cases. More recently, She has also co-authored the legal text, Babcock et al., SEX DISCRIMINATION AND THE LAW: HISTORY, PRACTICE AND THEORY.

LORENA FRIES is a feminist lawyer with 18 years of experience in the women’s human rights field. She has a wealth of training skills in human rights at the national and international level. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, which was formed to mainstream gender in the creation of the International Criminal Court, and has done international and national consultancies for governmental, non-governmental and international agencies on women’s human rights issues. She has authored publications and articles on gender and the law, criminal law and women’s human rights. She is immediate past Executive Director of La Morada, one of the most well-known women’s NGO’s in Latin America .  

BETTY KAARI MURUNGI is a women’s human rights activist.  Ms. Murungi has been a lawyer in private practice in Kenya for 17 years.  She is member of the Law Society of Kenya, has served four years on the Board of Directors of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-KENYA) and since 1997 has been a board member of the Women’s Caucus participating at the Rome conference.  She has served as Team leader for the CICC on the crime of aggression and since 1998, Ms. Murungi has been a con su ltant and legal advisor to the International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD) on gender related crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).  Currently Ms. Murungi is the Director of the Africa Office Urgent Action Fund and Convener of the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice .  

VAHIDA NAINAR is a Board member and former Executive Director of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, which was formed in 1997 to ensure a gender perspective in International Criminal Court. Based in Bombay , she has advocated extensively for women’s rights in India . She was a field worker with Aawaaz-e-Niswan (“Voice of Women”) in Bombay , where she organized women from minority communities against gender oppression and coordinated advice and legal aid for women. Subsequently, she founded and directed the Women’s Research and Action Group in Bombay where she coordinated a nation-wide research project on how social norms and legal rules affect women. Ms. Nainar also worked as the Indian liaison for the International Solidarity Network of Women Living Under Muslim Laws where, among other activities, she campaigned internationally for support and solidarity in cases of individual women. She is also a board member of the Urgent Action Fund.

VIVIAN STROMBERG is the Executive Director and a founding board member of MADRE, an international women's human rights organization that works in partnership with women's community-based groups worldwide to address issues of health, economic development and other human rights. She has been a member of the Executive Committee since 1997.


Program Director 

Program Coordinator