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Gender, corruption, and recruitment in the Haitian judiciary

Merit versus political contacts

Corruption is a threat to gender equality and presents an obstacle to women’s access to decision-making roles. Where recruitment to public office is determined by political contacts and ‘shadowy’ arrangements, women tend to lose out. In Haiti, the introduction of more transparent and merit-based procedures has helped women sidestep the largely male power networks that had previously been excluding them from being appointed to the judiciary. Consequently, Haitian women are now entering courts as judges in increasing numbers.

19 December 2022
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Gender, corruption, and recruitment in the Haitian judiciary

Main points

  • The literature on gender and corruption finds that corrupt recruitment practices tend to hamper women’s access to decision-making roles.
  • In Haiti, direct appointments to the judiciary are highly politicised and largely determined by male-dominated power networks to which women rarely have access. This helps explain the historic underrepresentation of women in the country’s judiciary.
  • Newer reforms, aimed at creating a more professional and independent Haitian judiciary, have introduced appointment procedures that focus more on the candidate’s abilities. In turn, this has diminished the importance of male-dominated power networks.
  • A by-product of these reforms has been an increase in the proportion of women judges – from 2% in the mid-1990s to 12% today.
  • Hence, where recruitment to the judiciary is based on formal and merit-based qualifications rather than more informal arrangements, it is easier for women to gain access.

Cite this publication

Tøraasen, M.; (2022) Gender, corruption, and recruitment in the Haitian judiciary. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2022:6)

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About the author

Marianne Tøraasen

Tøraasen has a has a Master in comparative politics and a Bachelor in French from the University of Bergen, Norway. She is writing a PhD dissertation on women’s judicial representation in Haiti. In 2018–2020, she spent five months interviewing 70 judges and other key informants in Haiti. The PhD project addresses how women access the bench, and how they experience and exercise their role as judges in a fragile state such as Haiti. Tøraasen’s research interests include women’s representation in the justice system and in politics more broadly. Her previous research includes police reform and sexual and gender-based violence in Haiti, and women’s symbolic representation in Senegal.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Photo: Marianne Tøraasen CC BY-NC-ND