Jazmin Mellado, who completed the LLM in International Law at Griffith College in 2016, has been working with the Mexican Women’s Secretariat’s legal team to increase awareness of how the law can be used to enable change and give Mexican women what is a basic human right: to live a life free of the fear of violence.
What inspired Jazmin to study law
From a very young age Jazmin had an inquiring mind. She would bombard her parents with endless questions, had a strong instinct of what was right and wrong, recognized injustices, and instinctively found she wanted to stand up and challenge them. At the age of seven she met a female lawyer and from that point onwards she wanted to know everything about the law and what being a lawyer involved. She completed her undergraduate law degree in Mexico in 2013 and spent a year working as a high school teacher whilst deciding where to study for a postgraduate law qualification.
Choosing Griffith College for postgraduate study
Initially Jazmin found herself working in Ireland for a year as an au pair so she could study English. She fell in love with Ireland, its welcoming people and fascinating culture. She received a scholarship for postgraduate study from Mexican Foundation for Education, Technology and Science, and so her search began to find a suitable law school. She googled ‘International Law Masters’ in Ireland and Griffith College’s LLM course was at the top of the results. Within half an hour of submitting her application to Griffith College she had a reply inviting her to interview. Two weeks’ later she received her acceptance and within the month she was in class!
Highlights of Jazmin’s time at Griffith College
For Jazmin the LLM offered an expansive and exciting curriculum delivered by outstanding lecturers. She said the lecturers made it an extremely personal experience as it was clear they had a passion for teaching others and wanted to share their own first-hand knowledge and experiences, but equally they wanted to know about their students’ own experiences and the judicial systems in their home countries. In turn, having a diverse group of students of various nationalities produced a stimulating and motivating learning environment.
Overall Jazmin said the opportunity to critically analyse and debate issues was invaluable. Also, the intellectual exchange with lecturers and fellow students gave her the confidence to trust her own instincts and knowledge, instilled in her a strong sense of self-belief, and empowered her to realise that she can effectively use her own knowledge of the law to confidently push for change when she sees injustice and inequality.
“The passion, desire and potential is there to change hearts and minds.”
Embarking on a career in gender law
Spurred on by her LLM thesis research on gender violence in Mexico, Jazmin wanted to find ways to facilitate change and empower Mexican women. According to the UN at least seven women were victims of gender-related killings in Mexico every day in 2016. Jazmin explained that killings continue due to the lack of effective implementation of the law and a long-embedded macho culture. Mexico’s Supreme Court has started to investigate the prevailing impunity in what is described by the UN as a “femicide pandemic”.
On her return to Mexico from Dublin Jazmin approached the Women’s Secretariat and presented her thesis research findings on gender violence. She was asked to join the Secretariat’s legal team to help train public servants in gender law. For the past ten months Jazmin has been part of a team, working alongside the UN, delivering training workshops to public servants. The workshops focus on how gender law can be effectively applied and how people in positions of authority, such as judges, have the power to challenge traditional socio-cultural beliefs.
Jazmin believes that increased access to justice for victims of gender-related crimes - ensuring that the rule of law is upheld, and establishing gender specialist courts, following Guatemala’s example - has a significant role to play in ending the violence against women. Having collaborated with the UN Mexico team, she is very proud of the part she has played in this project and the progress they have made. She admits that although it is not possible to effect change quickly, small victories, such as changing the mindsets of a few public servants, show that the passion, desire and potential is there to change hearts and minds.
Jazmin’s plans for the future
Jazmin hopes to continue working on future gender law projects with the Mexican government and find a role where she can effect sustainable change for Mexican women. She explains that presently there are no laws protecting against sexual harassment in Mexico and therefore workplace harassment of women is a troubling issue. So even in the corporate governance sector basic human rights issues need to be tackled. Jazmin hopes to provide workshops on women’s rights, similar to the ones she has worked on recently, to businesses and high schools, with the goal of educating both men and women, and perhaps most importantly youngsters, as they hold the key to bringing about permanent change for future generations. For Jazmin teaching awareness of women’s human rights and understanding what harmful behaviours are can play a positive role in altering attitudes and behaviours in the long term.
Since last year Jazmin has been asked to give classes about gender law – a subject that is presently not part of the core curriculum – at her alma mater’s Faculty of Law. She hopes to continue with these classes, but says her ultimate goal for the future would be to help establish a school of international law in Mexico, as this is something that currently doesn’t exist.
Presently Jazmin is also looking for opportunities to work abroad, perhaps through her contacts at the UN, so she can explore other ways to use her international law knowledge.
Well done to Jazmin on her amazing work to date!