IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award

Professor Eloísa Machado de Almeida of Brazil is the winner of the eighth International Bar Association (IBA) Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award. She receives it in recognition of her exceptional work as a human rights lawyer and for her contribution to the promotion of women's rights.

L-R Joanna Weller, Global Legal & Regulatory Compliance Counsel at LexisNexis; Eloísa Machado de Almeida, and Stephen Denyer, Chair IBA Section on Public and Professional Interest

Professor Machado de Almeida was presented with the Award on Friday 13 April 2018 in London, England, during the IBA’s 8th World Women Lawyers’ Conference: From Courtroom to Boardroom: The Impact of Women. She told conference attendees: ‘I am very honoured and grateful for this tribute. This is really amazing. In these two days of conference, I have heard incredible speeches from men and women committed to gender equality, but these talks have also made clear the challenges we face.’

She went on to say: ‘I would like to use this privileged space to recognise the struggle and persistence of women victims who have had their human rights violated in Brazil: my clients. I can only thank them for their trust and for never ever giving up seeking justice. These women are building a better rule of law for all… The life of a human rights lawyer is full of defeats and enormous challenges but, when we get it right, well, we change the world. I hope that in my life as a lecturer in law studies I will be able to inspire my students as you have all inspired me, in these two days, to accomplish more and better.’ The full transcript of her acceptance remarks can be read here.

Throughout her career, Professor Machado de Almeida has systematically handled cases of women whose children have died in juvenile detention centres or were killed in clashes with the police. She has fully supported investigations and fiercely advocated for the condemnation of the accused, as well as restitution for the children’s mothers.

A constitutional law and human rights lawyer, Professor Machado de Almeida has prepared more than 30 amici curiae briefs and has also been involved in major constitutional cases at the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court, such as supporting women’s rights to define the course of their reproductive life; the imprisonment of women and their particular suffering; quotas for Black people in universities; same-sex unions; environmental protection; and prison conditions.

Also, Professor Machado de Almeida founded the Human Rights Advocacy Collective (CADHu) with financial support from the Brazil Human Rights Fund, which unites lawyers to act pro bono in strategic landmark human rights litigation. Under this initiative, the first collective habeas corpus was recognised by the Supreme Court, determining the release of more than 5,000 pregnant women or mothers in prison awaiting trial and 2,000 children who were with them. She aims to ‘transform CADHu into the largest network of human rights lawyers in the country and then internationalise its activities, forming a new and prepared generation of human rights lawyers’.

Stephen Denyer, Chair of the IBA Section on Public and Professional Interest and member of the judging panel, commented: ‘All the nominees for the Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award are exceptional lawyers and excellent role models within their law firms, practice specialisms and careers. However, Eloísa Machado de Almeida excelled because she has also made a significant contribution to human rights in Brazil and the role of women in society generally through her independent initiatives, energy and commitment. The judge’s decision to honour her was unanimous.’

Ms Machado de Almeida is a professor in human rights, constitutional law and Brazilian politics at FGV Direito São Paulo, Brazil, and has participated as a specialist consultant in the drafting of reports for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as well as for the Mercosur Institute of Public Policies on Human Rights.

Joanna Weller, Global Legal and Regulatory Compliance Counsel at LexisNexis, said: ‘LexisNexis has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the Women Lawyers’ Interest Group and we are honoured to be a part of this award to recognise the commitment and outstanding achievements of Eloísa Machado de Almeida… I am humbled by what I have read about the honouree’s work, her professional career and her strong commitment to human rights – a most worthy recipient of this prestigious award… My sincere congratulations again, on behalf of LexisNexis, to this year’s honouree, Eloísa Machado de Almeida.’ Remarks can be read in full here.

Given biennially, the Award, presented by the IBA Women Lawyers’ Interest Group and supported by LexisNexis, recognises professional excellence, women who have influenced other women to pursue careers in law, and women who have advanced opportunities for other women within the legal profession. The Award includes an US$5,000 donation to cover or contribute to the cost of travel and accommodation in order for the winner to attend the conference to receive the Award.

The eighth IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award was presented to Professor Machado de Almeida on Friday 13 April 2018 at the IBA 8th World Women Lawyers’ Conference held at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, London, England.


Notes to the Editor

  1. Past recipients:

    2016 – Carol Xueref, France

    2014 – Dr Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Zambia

    2012 – Chief Olufolake Solanke, Nigeria

    2010 – Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, England

    2006 – Dianna Kempe, Bermuda

    2003 – Judge Navi Pillay, South Africa

    2001 – Helvi Sipilä, Finland

  2. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

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