On Wednesday, September 13, 2023, Ambassador Judy Rising Reinke gave opening remarks at the inaugural conference for the Montenegrin Association of Women Judges (MAWJ), organized by the U.S. Embassy’s INL Section in collaboration with the MAWJ Founding President, Appellate Court Judge Mirjana Popovic. The event was attended by judges, prosecutors, government officials and parliamentarians, civil society representatives, legal professional associations, and members of the international community.
The goals of the newly founded MAWJ include recognizing the fundamental importance of gender equality; ensuring access to equal justice for all; promoting cooperation between women judges in order to better understand gender in the judiciary; encouraging judicial leadership; improving the efficiency of judicial work; upholding laws related to the protection of human rights and prohibition of discrimination; facilitating professional development for justice professionals; and strengthening public trust in the judiciary. At the conclusion of the conference, INL Director Jessica Carl presented Judge Popovic with a grant award of $24,900 to provide MAWJ with a one-time infusion of funding support.
Since 2014, The INL Bureau has supported close to 300 female judges from over 40 countries to attend the U.S. National Association of Women Judges annual and International Association of Women Judges biennial conferences. To date, these judges have created national associations in Kyrgyzstan, Serbia, Peru, Morocco; and associations in Jamaica, Mongolia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka were revived and reenergized as a direct result of this support. Montenegro is the newest country to establish a national association as a direct result of Judge Popovic’s participation in the October 2022 U.S. National Association of Women Judges conference held in Detroit, Michigan. This year, INL Montenegro will support Niksic Basic Court Judge Vanja Vujovic’s participation in the 2023 U.S. MAWJ conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.