Gender and Law at Durham, in collaboration with Lady Hale, are delighted to support the Undergraduate prize for the best dissertation in law and gender. Each year the prize of £100 is awarded to the best undergraduate performance on a dissertation within the field of law and gender.
In 2021 the winner was Olivia Verity for her dissertation entitled 'Evaluating the Role of Civil Battery in the Context of Forced Vaginal Examinations During Childbirth: Addressing Obstetric Violence'.
Olivia has written a blog post based on her dissertation, which has been published on the Durham University Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences (CELLS) Obstetric Violence Blog. In this post, she discusses the use of the tort of battery to redress unauthorised vaginal examinations during childbirth. The post also outlines the foundation of her current research as an MJur candidate.
Lady Hale (or to give her full title, the Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond) was, until she retired in January 2020, President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the most senior Judge in the United Kingdom, and the first woman to hold that office. She grew up near Richmond in North Yorkshire, about 30 miles south of Durham, but read Law at Cambridge University. After graduating, she taught Law at the University of Manchester for 18 years, also qualifying and practising as a barrister for a while. She has published a number of books, including a pioneering work on Women and the Law (with Susan Atkins). In 1984, she became the first woman, and the youngest ever, Law Commissioner, leading the team whose principal projects led to the Children Act 1989, the Family Law Act 1996 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In 1994 she was appointed a Judge in the Family Division of the High Court, in 1999 she was the second woman to join the Court of Appeal, and in 2004 she became the first and only woman Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in the House of Lords. When the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom took over the judicial role of the House of Lords in 2009, Lady Hale became its first woman Justice, then Deputy President in 2013 and President in 2017. She says this:
'I have devoted much of my academic and judicial life to the cause of gender equality and am delighted that Gender and Law at Durham offers an annual prize for the best dissertation on the subject. The prize-winners have been truly excellent and have shown just how much work we still need to do to recognise and to remedy gender inequality in the law and in the justice system.'