ICAM Summit: Advancing Gender Equality in Legal Profession

The 11th Women Jurists Summit organized by the Madrid Bar Association (ICAM) concluded on International Women’s Day with a resounding call from Madrid’s female lawyers against any potential setbacks in gender equality. Emphasizing the strides made and the challenges that persist, the lawyers warned against regressive steps, affirming women jurists’ role in significant achievements.

With over 300 professionals in attendance, the summit outlined a fresh agenda aiming to bridge the gap between legal provisions ensuring equality and the real-world application. This calls for a profound cultural shift, encompassing educational, professional, economic, and administrative measures to ensure gender balance and equitable distribution of responsibilities.

The summit advocates for the transitional application of quotas, encouraging the promotion of equality values at all educational levels. The proposed agenda focuses on legal perspectives, suggesting the inclusion of a historical gender equality perspective in legal training and actions to address the media underrepresentation of women jurists.

To rectify gender imbalances and ensure fair representation in decision-making roles, the summit endorses the temporary application of quotas. This must coincide with standardized measurements of female presence in leadership roles, fostering effective policies given that gender parity positively influences economic growth.

Addressing barriers to women’s professional advancement involves promoting diversity, fostering collaboration based on equality, capacity, and merit. Combatting gender wage gaps requires the implementation of an Equality Observatory within the legal profession and fostering salary transparency in law firms and legal departments.

In education, the summit suggests incorporating the historical perspective of equality to identify unconscious biases. The potential perpetuation of biases by artificial intelligence systems highlights the need for integrating gender equality principles in AI development. Furthermore, increasing women and diverse backgrounds in technology is deemed crucial for unbiased AI tools.

The summit underscores the underrepresentation of women as legal experts or commentators in the public domain. Factors like glass ceilings, impostor syndrome, and imbalanced family responsibilities contribute to this trend. Policies and programs to enhance women’s visibility in media, including media skills training and support networks, are essential for achieving a more balanced public presence.

The participants highlight the importance of comprehensive support for victims of gender-based violence, including psychosocial and legal counseling services. Specific challenges for victim protection in rural areas are recognized, emphasizing prevention through a thorough analysis of risk factors.

The summit’s closing ceremony featured Roberta Poza and Gabriel Rodríguez, members of the ICAM Governing Board, along with Isaura Leal, Second Secretary of the Congress of Deputies; Mariano Cúneo, Justice Minister of Argentina, and Victoria Ortega, President of the Spanish Bar Association. The event marked the conclusion of the ICAM Equality Week, where over 50 top-notch experts participated in various activities, culminating in discussions on gender biases in artificial intelligence, causes, and effects of the wage gap, and discriminatory factors hindering personal and professional equality despite existing legal frameworks.

For five days, more than 50 leading female experts took part in the numerous activities. On Friday, International Women’s Day, issues such as gender bias in artificial intelligence and the causes and effects of the wage gap were debated. The academic programme concluded with a final session on the discriminatory factors that prevent women from enjoying equality in their personal and professional lives, which is already present in the regulatory system, with the participation of professionals of the stature of Cani Fernández (President of the CNMC), María Tomillo (partner at Simmons & Simmons), Jimena Urretavizcaya (partner at Allen & Overy) and Natalia Simeone (lawyer representing FIFA).