Original article by Shaila Koshy on 26 January 2012 in The Star found here.

KUALA LUMPUR: A High Court landmark decision on gender discrimination in Malaysia has been nominated for a Gavel award in Women’s Link Worldwide.

The international human rights non-profit organisation works to ensure that gender equality is a reality around the world.

The Malaysian decision nominated is that by Shah Alam High Court Justice Zaleha Yusof in re Noorfadilla Ahmad Saikin.

In her judgment, delivered on July 12, Justice Zaleha declared that pregnancy was not a valid reason for the state education department to deny Noorfadillah employment as an untrained relief teacher.

She said Malaysian courts were obliged to interpret the term “equality” in the Constitution in light of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Honey Tan, one of Noorfadilla’s counsel, called the decision “a world class judgment dealing with international law”.

“I had many requests for a copy of the judgment even before it was on Women’s Link.

“A Dutch university don has also included it in the reading list for the Masters programme in Gender and International Law,” Tan said.

Since 2009, Women’s Link has been running a competition called the Gender Justice Uncovered Awards because what a country’s “judges and courts say have tremendous influence on the sense of justice as well as the day-to-day lives of its peoples”.

“They help us to update and monitor the status of gender justice in courts around the world.

“It allows us to identify judges committed to gender justice whom we could potentially support for nomination to international or regional human rights courts,” Tan said.

Voting in the competiton closes on May 31.

To participate, visit www.womenslinkworldwide.org, click on “Gender Justice Uncovered Awards”, then select “Nominated Decisions”.

The competition does not just award gold, silver and bronze Gavels to the best among those nominated for promoting gender equality. It also selects the worst decisions and awards them Bludgeons.

A British decision nominated for a Gavel is that against the Home Office involving a Moldovan woman, who had been repeatedly trafficked and prostituted from the age of 14.

A Spanish provincial court decision is in the running for a Bludgeon for ruling that the term “bitch” used by a man convicted of threatening his family members was not derogatory but rather in reference to the description of an animal that should be treated with special care.

Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) is a non-profit based in Kuala Lumpur with the mission of promoting active democratic participation and human rights awareness.