Senior Civil Judge - Amna Zamir
Studied: LLM Human Rights Law
UK institution: University of Leicester
Amna Zamir is the first female civil judge in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. She works to ensure that women and other marginalised members of society have access to fair trials and judicial processes both within the court system and through alternative out of court arbitration.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BEING THE FIRST FEMALE JUDGE FROM GILGIT-BALTISTAN?
I'm from a very remote part of Pakistan, and while girls' education is valued, our society is still extremely male-dominated. This has an impact on the cultural attitudes to educational and professional attainment for women.
When I first started working in the Pakistan judiciary, there were very few women in this field, and I faced much criticism.
I have worked tirelessly to break down these barriers, become the first ever woman to serve as a civil judge in the region. I see no glass ceiling to hold me back and will continue to progress with my career. And these ambitions are not just for myself - I know that I am an example for girls and women, showing what they can achieve.
HOW DID STUDYING IN THE UK CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I spent a year studying at the University of Leicester, as a Chevening Scholar and I use the practical skills I acquired on a daily basis as a judge. My reasoned approach to arguing cases comes from the way I was taught by my talented tutors in Leicester. But in addition to the knowledge and skills gained, I learned a new paradigm to research which has stuck with me throughout my career and driven me to succeed. I have applied these approaches to each station I have worked at, setting high standards for new judges.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK OUTSIDE OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM?
Access to a fair trial is often impeded by financial or social constraints, particularly for women. There are social stigmas that prevent them from coming forward, or they are intimidated by facing a male-dominated judicial system. As a woman, these are barriers that I have worked to break down both within and outside the judicial system.
The presence of a female judge makes the system more approachable for women, but more needs to be done.
I was recently a guest speaker at a conference hosted by the Association of Global Humanists and Ethics, and spoke about the legislative system in Pakistan in relation to gender based violence against women. Stimulating the debate around these issues is part of the solution.
Outside of the judiciary, I work with the Agha Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Board on a voluntary basis. Based on the true principles of Islam, these bodies provide alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for litigants. They offer out of court settlements which take less time and financial resources, meaning they are accessible to more people in the community.
Amna Zamir is a finalist of the UK Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, Pakistan 2017.