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A Learning Agenda for Legal Empowerment

As legal empowerment efforts grow, we have an opportunity to collectively tackle the most pressing questions for the field.

The Legal Empowerment Network is launching a learning agenda to foster deeper collaboration and address key knowledge gaps by focusing the efforts of hundreds of organizations on a set of common questions. It will provide the foundation for comparative learning among practitioners and researchers working across different issue areas and geographies. Most importantly, the learning agenda will build community, creating space for practitioners to come together to reflect on lessons learned and generate ideas for innovation.

Why do we need a Learning Agenda?

By reflecting on the core questions that emerge in practice and through exchange with others, we can build stronger programs that more effectively address injustice. And by generating evidence about the impact, we can make the case for why growing legal empowerment efforts should be a public priority around the world.

What do we mean by learning?

Learning is often narrowly equated with research but that is not the only path. The Learning Agenda takes a big-tent approach to learning, which includes a range of approaches including practitioner reflection, using program data, and formal research studies using various qualitative and quantitative methods.

What are some of the top priorities for learning?

In a 2018 co-design workshop with 30 leading network members, four themes for the Learning Agenda were identified: impact, program methods, relationship to the state, and scale and sustainability. An overarching priority is to generate learning about the pathways from casework to systems change. For instance: How can legal empowerment efforts to redress specific rights violations contribute to broader changes to laws, policies and institutional practice? How can legal empowerment build power amongst people facing injustice?

Next Steps

Feedback on the draft learning agenda

A draft learning agenda will be shared widely with practitioners and researchers for input in the spring of 2022. This is an opportunity to build engagement and ensure the learning agenda targets the most important priorities for the coming years.

Catalyzing action research on legal empowerment

In partnership with IDRC, we'll support cohorts of action research projects in Africa and Southeast Asia. Over the next 3 years, these projects will generate knowledge on how legal empowerment can achieve transformative systems change. They'll also support wider regional engagement on learning and collective action.

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Learning in the Legal Empowerment Network

Legal Empowerment Network members can engage with the Learning Agenda through a range of learning opportunities including an annual leadership course, in-person learning exchanges, e-learning courses, and collaborations among members of regional or thematic groups.

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