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Legal Empowerment Leadership Course 2021

Participant Page

Gender Justice Cohort

Rethabile Mosese

South Africa  
Lawyers against Abuse (LvA)
Joined April 2021
Interests: Criminal Justice, Gender-based violence, Women's Rights
Rethabile Mosese joined LvA in July 2015. She holds a BSocSci majoring in law and psychology and an LLB (2012) from the University of Cape Town. Prior to joining LvA, Rethabile served her articles of clerkship with the University of Pretoria’s Law Clinic. Rethabile is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa in Gauteng. Her particular interests lie in constitutional and human rights law.

Linette du Toit

Uganda Association of Women Lawyers...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence, Livelihoods, Women's Rights

Archana Brian

My Choices Foundation
Joined April 2021
Interests: Family, Gender-based violence, Livelihoods, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights
I have to my credit 25 years of wide-ranging (extensive) experience in the different facets involving my sphere of work. I have led and continue to lead the “Operation PeaceMaker” project at My Choices Foundation as Head-Operations since 2014. The entire focus of the efforts at “Operation PeaceMaker” is to help/support and empower women and children who have been victims of violence and abuse.

I have been instrumental in the growth of our operations over the last 7 years and have also spearheaded the expansions into the neighbouring states, such as West Bengal, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra.

Our work has been further strengthened by leveraging our partnerships with various stakeholders, significant of which has been our partnership with the Telangana State Police. This partnership has helped “Operation PeaceMaker” conduct numerous training for their workforce on gender sensitization and also focus on training them for various other programs such as Bharosa, She teams, Margadarshaks and Sangamitras.

By joining this network, I wish to learn and understand the impact “legal empowerment” can have in furthering the cause of gender justice and women's rights. By being a part of this extensive network that connects people working in different domains, it will be an immense learning opportunity for me to gain valuable insights by listening to the experiences of many erudite people involved in the advancing of gender justice and women's rights.

Raphaella Reis

Geledés – Instituto da Mulher...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Community / Customary Land Rights, Criminal Justice, Education, Family, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Labor & Employment, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
Lawyer. Building a career focused on defending the rights and interests of women and black people in Brazilian society, and choosing as main areas of activity Labour Law, Consumer Law and Family Law. Vice-chair in the Graduation and Research Committee in the SP Sectional of the Brazilian Bar Association. Counsellor Representative of the Lawyers Union of the State of São Paulo - SASP. Vice-president of the Young Lawyer Committee of the Lawyers Union of the State of São Paulo - AJA with SASP. Member of the Editorial Board in Femijuris Network. CCO and CKO of the Feminist Network of Jurists - deFEMde.
Raging feminist.

Maya Abdullah

Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence, Labor & Employment, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights
I'm a lawyer at SALIGAN, and the work that I've been doing has been focused mainly on workers' rights, women's rights, children's rights, and gender equality. I am involved in research, publications, policy advocacy, litigation support, and legal education activities for the the organization.

Wuraoluwa Ayodele

Women Safe House
Joined April 2021
Interests: Family, Gender-based violence, Livelihoods
Wuraoluwa Ayodele is a Lawyer, Development Specialist and Women Rights Advocate with a special focus on gender
equality and gender justice. She works to specifically protect and rehabilitate women and girls
facing all forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Nigeria. She is the founder of Women Safe House
Sustenance Initiative and Safe House Legal, a non-profit organization and legal clinic, where she
provides free shelter, healthcare and legal services to female victims of all forms gender-based violence
across Nigeria.
She is the Social Secretary of the International Federation of Women Lawyers(FIDA), Oyo State and
Head of Chambers at Hackman & Co. Solicitors, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Wuraoluwa is a Mandela Washington Fellow, a Margaret Ekpo fellow, a mentee of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and
is driven by her passion for ensuring the elimination of Gender Based
Violence against women and girls, working specifically to bring Interventions to female survivors of violence in Nigeria.

Stojan Mishev

ESE Association for Emancipation,...
Joined February 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence
My educational background as graduated lawyer was the foundation for my professional engagement in ESE and work on the field of promotion of human rights and gender equality. I believe that legal empowerment can contribute for improving access to justice and realization of human rights of vulnerable groups of people. In this regard, I’m engaged on monitoring human rights and developing and implementing different legal aid modalities for women who suffered domestic violence, such as the traditional free legal aid and virtual legal aid, as well as cost effective models for legal empowerment of different vulnerable communities, such as the paralegal assistance and support. In addition, my expertise incorporates capacity building of practitioners from institutions and judiciary, as well as thematic human rights researches and analysis related to access to justice, gender equality and legal empowerment.
My expectation from the network is to meet colleagues from other countries, share experience with them, learn more about their work and discuss the opportunities for mutual cooperation in the future.

Tripti Poddar

Joined February 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Generalist Legal Services, Health, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Labor & Employment, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Women's Rights
Tripti Poddar is a litigating attorney and development policy researcher based in India, focussing on Constitutional litigation. She is an advocate for community led policy advocacy and legal action, with a focus on legal empowerment. She has litigated on issues such as Aadhaar, socio-economic rights, and citizenship among others before various courts in India. She specialises in research and understanding the legal framework of issues like rights housing, health, nutrition, labour laws, nationality and refugee laws - and has worked in these contexts in India and Nepal. Tripti holds a Masters of Public Administration from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons.) from Christ University, India.

Lívia Zanatta

THEMIS Gênero Justiça e Direitos...
Joined April 2017
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Gender-based violence, Women's Rights
I have been working with human rights issues since 2011.

Contributed Resources:

Abdullah Titir

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights
I am a non-practising Barrister, currently working as a researcher in Bangladesh, specialising in the field of gender and sexuality, and working to coordinate, support and catalyse advocacy initiatives and public interest litigation around the reform of discriminatory laws addressing sexual and gender-based violence, and the inclusive legal recognition of protection of the rights of gender and sexual diverse communities in Bangladesh. I am currently employed as a Research Specialist at the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), the largest non-governmental legal services organisation in Bangladesh providing free legal advice, mediation and litigation support to individuals in poor and marginalised communities. It also undertakes research, advocacy and public interest litigation to ensure effective legal protection of rights, and implements a number of core programmes to legally empower people and communities across the country. As part of my work at BLAST, I focus particularly on building dialogue with young people in universities on issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and am involved closely in initiatives to build the capacity of gender diverse community members through legal empowerment and education, research and advocacy on issues of equality, gender and diversity, and sexual and gender-based violence, and addressing discrimination through advocating for reforms in legislation and policies. In joining the network, I hope to connect with other human rights advocates and human rights defenders working with communities all over the globe, to exchange experiences and build resources, and to learn from challenges and best practices in building movements and taking forward community-based activism.

Ana Paula Ramirez

Joined April 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Family, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Health, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
My name is Ana Paula Ramírez. I am a lawyer from Mendoza, Argentina. As a lawyer I have always believed that having theoretical knowledge is not enough to solve problems or develop projects. Applying it in practical ways is the key. I consider myself as a trouble-shooter, thus, I have always tried to be precise when thinking of judicial strategies or preparing assignments - it is my strong ability.
A year before I obtained my degree in law, I started to work at Mendoza´s Government Hall. Not being a professional yet, I began doing administrative work at the Management Direction, which was my jump-start in the public sector. Basically, I could learn how a Ministry works, how public policies are taken and carried out. After I graduated, I was promoted to the General Secretarial Office for more technical work where my duties involved elaborating legal norms.
In 2015 there were National and Local Elections and the authorities changed. Consequently, there was a staff restructuring and I was reassigned to the Consumer Defense Direction where I have been working until now as a legal advisor. I must say that it is in this place where I can genially observe and be part of how public policies get to people. It is a daily effort to try to make a change in society. Additionally, I could observe that legal empowerment in consumers is as important as solving their complaints. It is crucial to empower them to solve and claim their rights by themselves. In other words, it enables them to understand, use, and shape the law.
On the other hand, I should mention my work in the private sector. As I am interested in women´s rights, I looked for a job in a different firm to learn how to fight in court defending women. It was my beginning in the Law Firm González where I continue. Helping women victim of gender violence is the most satisfying job I have ever done because I feel that sometimes injustice can be beaten.
In 2019, along with other colleagues, we started an NGO called Líbera. The jump-start was to help women to access legal abortions. Therefore, we started providing legal advice to those who suffer some kind of legal impediment to access the pregnancy termination. Moreover, we are planning some training for health personnel for them to understand, use, and shape the law, more specifically, the abortion law.
Joining the network would allow me and my NGO to learn and share our experience in defending and helping women`s in their rights. Líbera is just starting to work and needs a lot of knowledge to grow and being in the network would enable me (and therefore my NGO) to learn about community legal education pedagogy, innovative financing, providing legal services remotely, and using power mapping and case data for advocacy. Subjects that are crucial to enlarge our services in our community. A lot needs to be done in my province related to women´s rights and gender issues.
Thank you for giving me and Líbera the chance to join.

Aalima Zaidi

Association for Advocacy and Legal...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Criminal Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Other, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Women's Rights
I am a practicing lawyer and leading coordinator of casework unit of Association for advocacy and legal initiatives (AALI) Casework unit is dedicated for free legal aid including legal counseling, helping for lodging FIR and filing cases in different courts of Lucknow Head office.Being coordinator of the unit, my main focus is always on encompassing the right to choice in relationship decision-making and violence against women, AALI’s Casework & Legal Support team handles a broad range of cases, including inter-caste and inter-religious marriages, honor-related crimes (including cases of acid attack), domestic violence from marital or natal family, forced marriages, child sexual abuse, custodial violence, and rape, among others. In adhering to the organization’s interpretation of the right to choice in relationships, in the past AALI has taken up a same-sex relationship case. Survivors are not turned away as a result of inability to bear any financial cost.
Also, I look after fact-finding and legal support because these are critical components of our casework efforts, as they facilitate the social mediation process and provide key data for lobbying relevant stakeholders. Particularly with respect to honor-related crimes, child sexual abuse, and identity-based violence, fact-finding evidence collected by the Casework & Legal Support team helps to raise the profiles of these issues among media and governmental actors, especially when gauging the level of state response. Much of the data collected by the Casework & Legal Support team for advocacy purposes comes from case analysis and family court data.
My Casework team engages in outreach to enhance general legal awareness, in particular as pertains to the rights of women against violence and the right to choice in sexual relationships. In addition, it supports AALI’s advocacy efforts through the distribution of literature, as well as by holding public meetings, building rapport with human rights defenders and like minded organizations, and forming linkages with relevant governmental actors.
This course includes practical skills sessions on topics like community innovative financing, providing legal services remotely, and using power mapping and case data for advocacy, which will surely help us because our work is also based on research and case data. Also this course emphasizes peer learning, because we have been giving training and creating network, so overall this will be a great learning opportunity.

Mburalina Maira

Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC)
Joined April 2021
Interests: Criminal Justice, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Women's Rights
I'm Mburalina David Maira holding Post graduate diploma in legal practice and Bachelor of laws. Working with Women's Legal Aid Centre for three years in the position of Advocate and Program Officer. Being the advocate I am fighting for equality before the law to children in conflict with the law arraigned before the court through legal representation service by making sure that the courts and public prosecutor adhere the law of child of 2009 for purpose of saving the best interest of the child. Also to providing legal assistance to women and refugees for attaining their rights and access to legal justice services. My roles in the organization are based on providing legal representation and legal assistance to children, women and refuges in judicial and non judicial bodies. Being a project officer I'm coordinating training to women and young women to understand their strength and impact which they can have in standing together to fight against all forms of violence in their society. Mobilizing women to gain self- confidence, encouraging reporting, raising awareness to the community on the need of ending violence against women and young women and working with the local government leaders to establish mechanism to leverage resources and respond to violence in coordinated manner. I have decided to join the network so as to increase knowledge in legal empowerment leadership skill that will help me to envisage the Nation and World to gender equality.

Ismail Ismail Abdullahi

Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (IWEI)
Joined August 2019
Interests: Criminal Justice, Education, Family, Gender-based violence, Right to Information
I work with Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (IWEI) as Programmes Manager. IWEI work with community based paralegal at the grassroot level, providing legal aid services to vulnerable, poor and marginalised members of the society especially in rural communities.
My key responsibilities are: coordination, and administration of all aspects of programs including planning, organizing, leading and controlling program activities. Ensure that program activities operate within the policies and procedures of the organisation. Assist in developing funding proposals. Ensure quality reports are delivered in timely manner.

Dauda Sesay

Sierra Leone  
Lady Ellen Women’s Aid Foundation...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Education, Environmental Justice, Family, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Women's Rights
I am Dauda Sesay, a graduate with Diploma in Library Studies and B.A in Philosophy and Sociology from Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone. Over the last 5 years after graduation, I joined the Lady Ellen Women's Aid Foundation under its Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment program. I am the current lead Paralegal covering the Western Area Rural District of Freetown, Sierra Leone. My passion in Legal empowerment work rose to another level with the numerous paralegal trainings undertaken with support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa/OSIWA and NAMATI. With the enriching knowledge, I have provided paralegals services to the poor and vulnerable peoples especially women and girls' living in remote rural communities. I am so happy to be recommended for this leadership course for which i am so excited to participate. In addition, I am really looking forward to learning more innovative ideas, having access to resources and sharing of experiences in my field of legal empowerment.

Katharine Richardson

Women’s Justice Initiative
Joined November 2019
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Livelihoods, Women's Rights
I am the Director of Communications and Development for Women's Justice Initiative in Guatemala. Prior to WJI, I worked for a community development organization in DC (LISC), where I supported local initiatives related to community ownership, cooperatives, and equitable development.

Nunik Sri Harini

Joined April 2021
Interests: Education, Family, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Livelihoods, Women's Rights
About me:
My name is Nunik Sri Harini. I am a staff member of the Women Headed Family Empowerment Foundation (PEKKA Foundation). My current position is the Program Coordinator for the Strengthening of the Social Movement for the Empowerment of Women Heads of Families. Pekka's social movements cover law, education, health, politics and culture.
In 2019 - 2020, I was in the position of Information Systems Management Coordinator. Here I am responsible for data and information within the scope of the PEKKA Foundation. This includes data on legal case assistance that occurred in the assisted area of ​​the Pekka empowerment program.
Long before that, in 2003 - 2013 I was the field facilitator of the PEKKA Foundation and in 2014 - 2018 I was the regional coordinator for community development. In this second position I work directly with the community, among them is doing work related to organizing and empowering law.

My hope by taking the Legal Empowerment Leadership Course:
• Add and develop insights related to legal empowerment from other course partners. I am sure that this course will provide valuable lessons from academics who are the masters of this activity. Meeting sick people and great academics is a source of pride to me.
• The knowledge gained from this course can become the capital for PEKKA institutions in developing legal empowerment strategies in the field.
• Adding networks. With this course it is possible to meet colleagues from other institutions who have diverse experiences, knowledge and points of view.

Immaculata Casimero

South Rupununi District Council
Joined April 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Women's Rights
I am Immaculata Casimero, 39 years of age, an indigenous woman, who belongs to the Wapichan nation in Guyana. Presently, I am employed as the communications officer with the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) a local Indigenous Organisation that represents 21 communities within the Wapichan territory. Besides my job; I hold the positions as; chairperson of the Aishara Toon Women's Association (AWA), a community based organization which comprises of 15 women in the Wapichan village of Aishalton; and the Aishalton Primary School feeding programme which provides hot heals on a daily basis to over 177 students. My journey as a village leader began in 2015 when I was elected as a village councillor where I served voluntarily as the secretary of the Aishalton Village Council for 3 years.
In January of 2020, I helped to organise the first Rupununi Indigenous Women’s Conference which brought together over eighty women to discuss and focus on gender, leadership, environmental issues and empowerment. I am also the founder of Wapichan Women’s Movement (WWM) which is the women’ s arm of the South Rupununi District Council. The Wapichan Women’s Movement aims to improving women's livelihood through collective action, entrepreneurship and empowerment.
Working with my people over the years have made me aware of the concerns, issues and struggles of my people, especially as it relates to mining activities that are being carried on our traditional lands without our free, prior, and informed consent; which is causing devastating impacts on the environment ,and are contributing to climate change, social and health issues.
By joining this network I look forward to learning all I can from other organizations, forming new alliances, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with them.

Andriuta Violeta

Joined April 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence
Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to express interest in participating at the „ Legal Empowerment Leadership Course. Current situation and possible prospects”. This programme promises to be a good platform for exchange of good practices and knowledge sharing.
The subject proposed by tis program is a matter of interest to me because my work in the last 11 years. Starting with 2015, I have worked in my capacity as an Attorney-at-law and gender expert for the Women’s Law Center (WLC). The Women’s Law Center (WLC) is a non-governmental organization that was registered in 2009. WLC was established by a number of women-lawyers from Moldova to ensure that a gender perspective is present during the law-making process and in the application of law, and that women and men are equal before the law. The WLC supports a human rights based approach and strives for change at the individual, community and systemic levels. The organization’s activities and efforts focus on several strategic directions: policy advocacy, monitoring implementation of new laws and protection mechanisms; providing legal, psychological and social assistance services to women and children affected by domestic violence. Participation in this profram will allow me to be better prepared to work through learning new methods, tools and good practices in the relevant areas.
Moreover, it is a good opportunity to improve and extend the network of specialists in the discussed fields where results could be further distributed.
Considering my professional experience, academic performance and my desire to enrich my own and others’ knowledge in international human rights field, I am convinced that I will be a valuable addition to the programme. I appreciate you taking the time to review my application.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information needed.

Yours sincerely,
Violeta Andriuța

Esther Mercy Atim

Uganda Association of Women Lawyers...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am a human rights lawyer and activist passionate about women's rights and empowerment. I am currently a Legal Officer at my organization implementing a project under the thematic areas of enhancing access to justice for women and girls who experience violence and promotion of sexual reproductive health rights. I also have an interest in transitional justice, traditional justice/the informal justice sector. By joining the network, I am looking to gain a wealth of knowledge through interactions with people and material in this platform.

Land & Environmental Justice Cohort


Aída Gamboa

Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice
Tengo 9 años de experiencia trabajando en la defensa del medio ambiente, los derechos humanos y los pueblos indígenas. Soy actualmente coordinadora del Programa Amazonía de DAR, organización sin fines de lucro peruana que tiene como fin promover la gobernanza y los los derechos humanos en la Cuenca Amazónica. El programa que lidero trabaja principalmente a nivel regional y con aliados de varios países, uno de los temas que abordamos es el empoderamiento de las organizaciones indígenas a través de la justicia ambiental y el reforzamiento de los derechos colectivos, por lo que unirnos a la red fortalecería nuestro trabajo y también generaría alianzas y articulación en diversas líneas de acción y trabajo con las comunidades locales con las que trabajamos.

Bach Dang Dinh

Law and Policy of Sustainable...
Joined May 2020
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Education, Environmental Justice, Generalist Legal Services, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Right to Information, Women's Rights
With 20 experience years and Master Degree of Law, I have been developing “public interest lawyer” concept in Vietnam for the last 6 years, bringing a public interest legal approach to issues surrounding sustainable development. As Director of The Law and Policy of Sustainable Development Research Center (LPSD) now works with communities affected by development, poor industrial practices, and environmental degradation to help them understand and enforce their rights. To complement its engagement with community and legal efforts, LPSD also analyzes development related policy and provides suggestions to further its goal of sustainable growth, development, and environmental protection. I am member of Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide and IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law. I attended Mekong Legal Network since 2009 and become Vietnam Country Coordinator.

Bassey Bassey

Green Concern for Development GREENCODE
Joined January 2018
Interests: Environmental Justice
I am a highly motivated and proactive young professional, always sourcing new avenues to add value to the work of my organisation using my skills and competency.

I am very passionate about the environment, It's conservation and sustainability.

I have been involved in climate change advocacy, waste management and environmental advocacy as I currently engage with the government of Cross River on the Super Highway.

Cing Don Nuam

Joined June 2020
Interests: Environmental Justice, Policy Advocacy, Traditional / Customary Justice
Cing Don Nuam joined Namati Myanmar as a learning officer - research, policy and advocacy. Prior to joining Namati, she worked as a data community coordinator at Phandeeyar for one year, leading Data Literacy Program with East West Management Institute (EWMI), supported by The World Bank. She found her passion in land research and community legal empowerment when she started working as a research assistant for an "r4d" project, organized by Center for Development and Environment (CDE) in University of Bern. During those two years, she has had the opportunity to explore in-depth about the land use changes in Southern Myanmar and their impact on the local communities. She earned her B.A in Economics from Randolph College, located in Lynchburg, Virginia of the USA in 2016. She is also an alum (9th-wave) of the Pre-Collegiate Program in Yangon, Myanmar.

Contributed Resources:

Debasis Pattanaik

Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Right to Information
Myself Debasis Pattanaik, working in NIRMAN as Senior Programme Officer since April 2020. My educational background includes MSW, and has been engaged in facilitating land access, tenure rights and other related issues of Adibasi and other forest dwellers in Adibasi dominated areas of Odisha state, India for the last 15 years. I assisted Gramsabhas to assert their recognized rights, establish their authority to conserve & manage biodiversity in a sustainable, democratic, and transparent manner in Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Nayagarh, and Rayagada district of Odisha. During this period, I have also engaged myself as a co-struggler with some natural resource rights movements and assisted communities to conduct inquiries, file petitions, and challenge illegalities with legal methodologies like NGT, WRIT. Besides this, I have learned different participatory tools & methods to facilitate the change process being a participant in RLEP (Regional Learning Exchange Platform), South-East Asia built by MISEREOR, Germany.

My expertise:
• Can engage communities in addressing their crisis through capacity building on different progressive laws/ notifications (like PESA, FRA, EIA, etc.), conduct inquiries to their crises including drafting and filing petitions.
• Facilitate tenure rights under Forest Rights Act 2006 and other state revenue laws of Odisha, India

I am associated with Land Access, Tenure, and Rights programme components of NIRMAN along with building a knowledge base of the local communities in Rayagada and Nayagarh district. I also coordinate with project teams, monitors the project activities, and also assists in documentation and reporting of different social development aspects of the organization.

The network will provide the scope to build a strong and technically sound knowledge-base around land rights and other environmental issues and my skill in research, documentation, and effective community engagement will be enhanced with the proper guidance of the Legal Empowerment Network members. Also, my competency could grow with new tools, good practices, and mentoring supports of the network.

Eileen Wakesho

Joined July 2016
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Livelihoods
#WomenLandRighs, Research and policy Advocacy

Contributed Resources:

Jarso Mokku

Drylands Learning & Capacity...
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am a community land right activist and public educator. A leader of a national NGO and Head of a recognized Secretariat of the largest parliamentary caucus (PPG) in Kenya. I am passionate about the full implementation of the Community Land Act 2016 in Kenya in order to secure communal land tenure and advocate for the recognition and protection of unregistered community lands in Kenya. Support legal registration of the pastoralist community groups and community land righst in all Kenyan pastoralists areas. I want to be part of a global movement for legal empowerment. Meet with the practitioners from around the world, access practical resources and join international learning exchanges and share knowledge of global practice with the community groups seeking to secure their community lands, empower grass-root actors and link them to the global network of practitioners and facilitate them to join the global movement.

Jocelyn Medallo

International Accountability Project
Joined July 2020
Interests: Environmental Justice
As the Deputy Director at the International Accountability Project, a human rights and environmental organization that works to advance community-led development, I have the privilege of working with our teams n Asia Pacific, Africa/MENA, and Latin America to increase access to meaningful remedy and reinforce community-led campaigns.

Macarena Martinic

Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente (FIMA)
Joined September 2020
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Environmental Justice, Right to Information, Traditional / Customary Justice
Mi nombre es Macarena, trabajo en el equipo de litigios de ONG FIMA. Trabajamos patrocinando comunidades en el acceso a la justicia ambiental y litigando a favor de las causas territoriales. ONG FIMA, en especial el equipo de litigios, ha sido fundamental para el avance de la jurisprudencia en materia ambiental hacia una que consagre la justicia ambiental, en la cual que prevalezcan los derechos a la participación ciudadana, información y de acceso a la justicia. En particular, yo llevo tres años en el equipo, enfocada en el tema del litigio de comunidades indígenas quienes ven sus vidas y costumbres y territorios destruidos por el avance de las salmoneras en el sur de Chile.

Sarah Dorman

United States  
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy
I am an attorney with the People, Land & Resources Program at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a non-profit organization that uses the power of law to protect the environment and human rights. At CIEL, my work involves using environmental and human rights standards and tools in innovative ways to: strengthen legal protections, equip communities to use international law and instruments to defend their rights and protect their environment, ensure international financial flows safeguard the environment and human rights, and increase corporate accountability.

Pranisha Shakya

Community Empowerment and Social...
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Health, Livelihoods, Right to Information, Women's Rights
I am an indigenous and women’s rights activist and community-based development enthusiast. I am currently engaged as the Program and Research Officer with the Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network/Foundation (CEMSOJ) in Nepal. I have been engaged in assisting indigenous and rural communities to assert their rights that are threatened in the contexts of “development” and business projects. I have also been involved in a pilot initiative to enhance access to energy and other social services for rural indigenous communities in central Nepal. In my work, I tend to focus on the specific impacts and issues that women and youth of those communities face and how to address them.
I started my NGO career as an intern with the CEMSOJ in 2017 and was subsequently hired as a Program Assistant and more recently as Program and Research Officer with the organization. I currently provide overall support for implementation of CEMSOJ’s programs/initiatives, campaigns and projects, including in awareness raising and capacity building activities, media monitoring and information sharing, documentation and research studies, and particularly assist in the Campaign to Promote a Human-Rights Based Approach to Renewable Energy Development to advance the just transition in Nepal.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Rural Development from the Tribhuvan University affiliated Patan Multiple Campus in Nepal. For my future studies and career, I aim to specialize in international human rights law and grassroots-led development practices and thus am always to learn further in relation to those areas. That is also why I am looking to join the network.

Saidi Saidi

Natural Justice: Lawyers for...
Joined July 2019
Interests: Environmental Justice
I am passionate about Environment and the reason behind the affection was cruelty of mankind against mother nature. Currently working as Senior Environment Legal Officer at Natural Justice Kenya stationed in Lamu. My roles are:-Train communities on Law/letter writing/evidence collection/monitoring, conduct research and comment on EIA/policy/law.

Thaddee Seck

Natural Justice: Lawyers for...
Joined March 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information
I have a master's degree in business law and have specialised in the management of extractive activities since 2017. In this sense, I have worked at the Senegalese Committee for Human Rights as a human rights officer in the extractive sector. Thanks to this specialisation, I was able to participate in the training of many civil society actors on issues related to mining and hydrocarbons. After two years of experience in the national human rights institution, I joined Natural Justice first as a legal fellow and then as a programme officer in the extractive industries and infrastructure projects programme.
In my daily work, I accompany communities impacted by mining/petroleum activities and infrastructure projects in legal capacity building through tools such as the community audit and the community protocol. To this end, I coordinate a network of 3 paralegals recruited by Natural Justice in Senegal to accompany the communities.
This is why this network is important to me. It will allow me to strengthen my experience and knowledge of legal empowerment. I have a strong feeling that this network will allow me to meet experienced practitioners with whom I can share my experiences and concerns.

Vuthy Sem

EarthRights International
Joined December 2017
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Generalist Legal Services, Right to Information
My name is Sem Vuthy ( Vuthy Sem). I am working with EarthRights International to promote community rights to development. I work directly with community members who are affected/being affected by economic development projects such as dam, coal and special economic zone. I work to build up community capacity on human rights and environmental laws and regulations. Through this work, we aim to build the community voice to speak up their concerns, which caused by any form of the development project in the country and link them to the next level of advocacy work to support their entire community campaign.

Yoatzin Popoca Hernández

Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental,...
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Traditional / Customary Justice
My name is Yoa Popoca, I'm a lawyer and I've been working for the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA by its initials in spanish) at the Regional Office Gulf of Mexico, based in Xalapa, Veracruz, for the last two years. Throughout my time with the organisation, I've mostly done strategic litigation and given accompaniment to indigenous peoples and comparable communities who defend their territories and the natural resources within them from extractive projects and public policies that harm their culture and millenarian heritage. My expertise lies in the use of environmental law as a tool to reivindicate the rights of these communities and those other ways of dwell and live in Mexico, therefore, protect mother nature. I'm looking to join this network to share the experiences I've got and, mostly, to learn from other processess of defense.

Contributed Resources:

Kimberly Alvarez

KAISAHAN Solidarity Towards Agrarian...
Joined March 2019
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am the Policy Advocacy Officer of Kaisahan Inc, a non-government organization based in the Philippines.

Foromo Frederic Loua

Mêmes Droits pour Tous (MDT)
Joined August 2020
Interests: Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Labor & Employment, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights
Attorney Foromo Frédéric Loua is the founding president and lead attorney of Mêmes Droits pour Tous (MDT), one of Guinea's leading non-governmental human rights organizations.

As a lawyer and human rights activist, Attorney Loua provides legal and judicial assistance to detainees in illegal detention throughout the country. He also works to reduce the use of torture in police investigations and collaborates with various international organizations such as Human Rights Watch on various reports on Guinea. He is also a member of the Guinean Human Rights Commission.

From September 2008 to February 2009, he was a "resident expert" for the International Forum for Democracy Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), where he conducted extensive research on legal system reform and the democratization process in Guinea. He was able to contribute to the reform of Guinean criminal law in accordance with Guinea's international commitments.

He also participated, alongside the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the reform of the Guinean security forces through training on human rights and international humanitarian law.

Finally, in recent years, Attorney Loua has become increasingly involved in the promotion of a favorable legal environment for populations affected by mining projects and issues of democratic governance.

Nqobizitha Ndlovu

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice
I am a Constitutional and human rights lawyer with major research interests in the rights of indigenous peoples and the natural resources governance framework. I am the National Legal and Policy Advisor at Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association. Further I am the thematic lead of the Land and Natural Resources programme. As a legal practitioner, both in private practice and as a member of the National Prosecuting Authority, I have grappled with community related issues covering a broad area ranging from criminal to land cases. While in our law ignorance is no excuse, it is correct that the major problem driving human rights violations is the lack of capacity and knowledge to hold duty bearers accountable. It is thus critical to adopt legal empowerment models as a means of capacitating communities not only to demand their rights but to be involved in the law and policy making processes. Besides work experience, I consider myself as an academic. I am currently a Doctoral candidate in Law with the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. My area of research is on the protection of indigenous peoples rights to land and natural resources in Zimbabwe.

Joolia Demigillo

Legal Rights and Natural Resources...
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Policy Advocacy, Traditional / Customary Justice
Greetings! I am Joolia Demigillo, a researcher and paralegal of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center - Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC). On behalf of our organization, I have been working with Timuay Justice and Governance (TJG), the traditional governance of the Teduray and Lambangian Non-Moro indigenous peoples, in their assertion for the full inclusion of their distinct rights in the newly-formed Bangsamoro autonomous region in Mindanao, Philippines. I look forward to becoming part of a community that works for legal empowerment, especially of the most marginalized. I am excited to witness the exchange ideas and experiences of individuals and groups working in different contexts, in ways that can help inform our work with the indigenous peoples across the Philippines.

Umpula Emmanuel

Democratic Republic of the Congo  
African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH)
Joined April 2020
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency
I am Executive director of Afrewatch (African Resources Watch). My organisation and I work on extractives resources across Africa but our main activities are located in DRC.

Martin Bwalya Kampamba

Joined March 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice
Martin Bwalya Kampamba, was born on 26th February 1987 at chinsali general hospital in muchinga province. he is a founder and president of youth leady non-governmental organization called Future preneur Zambia (FPSZ)
Martin is a highly motivated, talented and had working young man. He is interested in community development and education to vulnerable groups (women, youth and children) and he believes that youths are key in issues of development. A competent self-starter with a high level of team work experience and great passion for issues related to youth and women.
• Organizational development ( planning, design, Implementation and managing of programmes)
• Strategic Planning
• Financial Planning and Management
• Building Capacities of Youth Organisations in line with the NYDC mandate
• Human rights Activist and trainer
• African Change maker ward
My Education back Ground
 University of Africa: Per suing Bachelor Degree in health service admiration
 Bolton health and education institute: Diploma in public health and counseling(2011-2013)
 Douglas college of Canada : Certificate in leadership and entrepreneurship (2013 -2014)
 King Georg VI National youth College : Certificate in computer skills teaching (2009-2010)
 Ministry of health : psychosocial care &counseling for HIV infected children and Adolescents 2013
 Mkushi high school: grade twelve school certificate (2002 -2005)
Managing Director – Future-Preneur/STS Zambia march2012 – To Date
• Line managing the School Directors, education Consultant and finance manager
• Implementing current and new FPZ strategy and policy throughout existing projects and within new projects
• Overall responsibility for the acquisition of affordable land sites in those areas of Zambia identified as being in greatest need of additional skills capacity
• Oversee operational activities such as procurement, IT, and logistics
• Overall responsible for maximizing youth enrolment within new and existing schools/colleges
• Overall responsible for ensuring the full implementation of the communications framework
• Joint responsible for developing the strategic direction and resource allocation of youth development.
• Overall responsible for the on-going improvements youth development funds
• Overall responsible for maximizing the social impact generated by FPZ through projects
• Manage risks and issues and adjust programme tactics and targets accordingly as situations change and opportunities and threats emerge

Desmon Lempaira

Indigenous Movement for Peace...
Joined July 2020
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights
I am Lempaira Desmon I come from Kenya from the indigenous community the Maasai. I hold a bachelor's degree in Arts, major in Sociology, and Communication from the University of Nairobi. Currently, I work at IMPACT Trust as a program officer under Community Land Protection. IMPACT is a nongovernmental organization based in the northern part of Kenya, IMPACT exists to build, support, and strengthen grassroots social movements. Our mission as an organization is to address deep underlying causes social exclusion, discrimination, marginalization, and poverty that is undermining the indigenous people’s rights to livelihoods, a healthy environment, and social-cultural rights. I have extensively been involved in advocacy campaigns on human rights issues ie the Ewaso Nyiro Camen Caravan that aims at restoration of the Ewaso Nyiro River Ecosystem being the main source of water for the pastoralist communities living downstream,water volumes have been decreasing over the years due to illegal obstruction of water upstream by the flower farms and the farming communities. I have been working with the pastoralist communities living in northern Kenya in securing their land tenure. Joining the network is an honor it will help me to expand my know-how as far as land issues and other human rights aspects are concerned. It will be a knowledge sharing and learning platform for me.

Sor.Rattanamanee Polkla

Community Resource Centre Foundation...
Joined October 2017
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Right to Information
I am a lawyer, executive coordinator and co-founder of Community Resource Centre foundation (CRC).
CRC has worked on litigation and advocacy to promote and support communities in Thailand and Southeast Asia to access to justice. CRC also works on Business and Human Rights. I work with communities which have faced violation from development project of private companies and state agencies. All projects are coal power plant, bio-mass power plant, dam, mining (gold mining, lignite mining, coal mining, lime stone mining), and land bridge.
I have been working in the field for Human Rights and Environment as a lawyer and advocate since A.D.2000. CRC was found in 2010 in Thailand and registered as foundation in 2015.

Maggie MA

Friends of Nature
Joined April 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Peace-building & Transitional Justice
I work with a Chinese grassroots environmental NGO named Friends of Nature (FON) as a public interest environmental lawyer since 2015. We file public interest litigation in China according to China's new environmental protection law which enables NGOs to sue polluters in the name of public interest. We filed cases about air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination (heavy metal) as well as ecological destruction. In recent years, I've been interested in the environmental problems caused by Chinese Outbound investment, especially under the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). By joining this network, I want to encourage myself as well as other people by knowing more about each other's work, and most importantly, I want to work together with lawyers and legal practitioners all over the world to solve some problems.

Kerri Harris

United States  
Joined April 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice
I am the organizing specialist for Namati's US EJ Program. My work allows me to help find connecting points between organizations and states within the region I am assigned in order to allow us all to rise together. I hope that by joining this network I will be able to deliver a broader array of resources to the people in the region and carry the lessons of the region to others in the worldwide network in exchange.

Ariadna Godreau Aubert

Puerto Rico (United States)  
Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico
Joined September 2020
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Livelihoods, Other, Women's Rights
I am an activist and a human rights lawyer with a JD the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and a Masters in Law degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford, UK.For the last 8 years I have worked on several access to justice initiatives, which include strategic litigation at local and international levels, popular education, and organizing movements lawyers. I am writing as the founder and Executive Director of Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico. We are a non-profit organization that provides free and accessible legal education and support to low income individuals and communities. We accompany organizations, groups and communities in the defense of their human rights, particularly dignified housing and just recovery. We believe that there is power in knowing your rights and that social impact advocacy is a tool to promote social change. This vision is the driving force behind our work. I wrote to Namati because we have been using legal workers and community paralegals (using other names, without a structure) in several efforts of legal empowerment years and decades before this organization. They are present on our environmental justice work and in the fight against police brutality. We have developed capacity among them through housing justice efforts. Yet, we lack a structure to truly have a paralegal effort that is coherent with our legal empowerment work and that truly carries out the power to transform. The vision is to inaugurate a Community Paralegal Project amplifying current efforts of legal education and capacity development. We are looking for people who have done this with success, solidarity and love.

Camilo Guadalupe Torres

Puerto Rico (United States)  
Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico
Joined April 2021
Interests: Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Policy Advocacy
I'm a community lawyer focused in the development of educational and advocacy tools and initiaves for the purpose of helping empower people and communities in their defense of housing rights. Raised in the municipality of Vieques in Puerto Rico (a bombing range polluted island abused by the military), I experience, along with my community, the injustice of not beign able to decide how to use our land and resources. Joining the Legal Empowerment Network will help me be exposed to many wonderful minds that have confront similar experience, and will help me identify new strategies to keep making the changes our communities need.

Julia Wang

United States  
Open Society Justice Initiative
Joined January 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Labor & Employment
I am working at Open Society Justice Initiative as a fellow in the Legal Empowerment team. I am looking to join the network and learn about the work done in this field to better support partners and projects that center around legal empowerment.

Neung Thornthan

EarthRights International
Joined March 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice
Currently I work with EarthRights International as Mekong Legal Coordinator. I works on the Human Rights, environment and land(sometime) issues helped the villagers and communities as legal aid and law training for the villagers.
I provided direct legal counseling services to local people facing problems with Thai law, policies and regulations, and other human rights violations. I provided monitoring and evaluation of the legal processes, investigation and fact finding, preparing documentations and the clients for court and testimony. I developed the training modules and awareness raising materials based on need assessments to communities as well as conducted training related to law and legal services on human rights, most of the target groups were ethnic minority.
I would like to learn new skill and experiences and strengthen the impact of my work and my minority community. I hope I can expand my network and share experiences with other participants.

John Conteh

Sierra Leone  
Joined June 2017
Holds a Higher Teachers Certificate Secondary from the Northern Polytechnic, now Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology, Makeni where I studied Language Arts and Religious and Moral Education. Upon graduation worked as a teacher at the Government Secondary School for Girls, Mathora before joining Timap for Justice; one time leading human rights organisation in Sierra Leone. Rose from paralegal to the rank of a Manager and a Lead Paralegal. I worked in Bombali and Tonkolili Disricts in Northern Sierra Leone as well as Bo and Kenema Districts in the South and East of Sierra Leone respectively.Worked with Timap for justice for six years . key responsibilities being but not limited to recording cases and finding concrete pratical soutions to them, visiting communities and giving legal education, solving individual and community level problems. Started work with Namati as a Legal empowerment Advocate on June, 2017.

Zhong Zhao

Green Camel Bell
Joined April 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice
Zhong has been working with environmental NGOs in Greater China for 17 years. At the local level, he pioneered the use of China’s information disclosure laws to hold polluters accountable and conducts environmental and health education and promotion activities in rural communities. At the national level, he promotes and conducts research on public participation in environmental decision-making and provides training and mentorship to grassroots partners in China.
Zhong received his Master's degree in Laws from the University of Hong Kong. He was visiting scholar of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He co-authored “A Legal Handbook for People Impacted by Water Pollution.”
Zhong hopes to join the network to exchange environmental laws and indigenous people's rights with other members.

Barbara Heliodora Ribeiro Cesar Dantas

Articulo 19
Joined April 2021
Interests: Criminal Justice, Education, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Women's Rights
Public Manager, Executive Assistant at Article 19 Brazil

Nixon Boumba

Joined August 2018
Interests: Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Right to Information, Women's Rights

Judy Winter

South Rupununi District Council
Joined April 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Community / Customary Land Rights, Criminal Justice, Education, Environmental Justice, Family, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Health, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Labor & Employment, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am Judy Winter, an 18 year old Wapichan girl from a village in the Deep South Rupununi, Region 9 in Guyana. I worked for a year with the South Rupununi District Council employed under South Central Peoples Development Association as a youth coordinator. I am currently a student at the University of Guyana pursuing an International Relations course to get into the Law program, sponsored by FPP and supported by the SRDC/SCPDA. I hold my culture to heart and I always want to work for the betterment of my people because as indigenous nations, we have been exploited and taken advantage of by the governments, and other persons for too long. Our resources are being taken away from us in the name of the western 'development' which is just destroying our earth. One way we can combat this global issue is making proper decisions and using our traditional way of life which our forefathers used before us, and teaching it to our children. We must not be brain-washed by those seeking to use us and our resources for profits. We must not only think of ourselves but others, and our future generations. When we are in leadership positions, we are expected to make decisions and act accordingly that would benefit the population sustainably, and we must know how to go about doing that. We must understand what words mean especially the legal words, notice when we are being taken advantage of, and must not tolerate that. I therefore want to learn all I can from this network especially in the legal field to become more aware of my rights and my peoples rights. I want to be able to pass on to them this knowledge so that together, we can make this world a better place.

General Justice Issues Cohort

Antonio Gutierrez

United States  
Robert L Bernstein Institute for Human... (Unverified)
Joined July 2020
Gutierrez oversees Strategic Development & Operations for OCAD by addressing structural needs and facilitating the organization’s sustainable growth. They became involved with the organization as part of the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL). Gutierrez has over 5 years of non-profit administration development, and is also a co-founder of the Albany Park Defense Network and the Autonomous Tenants Union.

Gabriela Piñeros

United States  
Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (Unverified)
Joined April 2021
I was born in Bogota,Colombia and at the age of 6 moved to Florida,United States. I'm currently a student at the University of Florida where I am getting ready to graduate with a Bachelors degree in Criminology and Women's Studies. During my time living in Gainesville, where UF is located, I was introduced to legal empowerment by Jhody Polk, the founder and director of The Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub. I have been volunteering at LEAH for nearly two years, I don't have a particular role but instead do miscellaneous tasks or provide support as needed. By joining the network i'm hoping to gain a deeper understanding of how legal empowerment can be used as a tool. I'm also excited to connect with other people and learn from their background and expertise!

Taqbir Huda

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Gender-based violence, Health, Labor & Employment, Policy Advocacy
I am a Research Specialist at Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), where my research aims to activate accountability for human rights violations by bridging the gap between academia and activism, with a particular focus on gender based violence and labour exploitation. I have used my research to build evidence for human rights advocacy, support public interest litigation and draft legislative reform proposals. By joining the network, I hope to learn sustainable justice strategies from other grassroots human rights defenders and be part of a global campaign for justice.

Angel Tueros

United States  
Joined April 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Criminal Justice, Education
My legal experise comes from unusual settings, such as prison, where I spent nearly a quarter of a century; I learned to read and analyze arguments, as well as to draft legal briefs and letters to help my peers. I currently work for New York City Health + Hospitals as a Public Health Adviser and Community Engagement Specialist (CES); as CES, part of my role is to connect people who have been infected with or exposed to covid-19 with an array of resources, including legal services. I look forward to join this network to continue on a path of growth professionally, exchanging perspectives and ideas, as well as a human being, and better serve my community.

Alejo Rodriguez

United States  
Joined April 2021
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Criminal Justice, Livelihoods, Policy Advocacy
My name is Alejo Rodriguez, Chief of Curriculum and Storytelling, Zealous. I am a published poet, published law journal scholar, have some experience in narrative screenwriting, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, and Director of Community Engagement . I am also formerly incarcerated, having served 32 years in New York State prison system I am also formerly incarcerated.

Jhody Polk

United States  
Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub
Joined December 2018
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Criminal Justice, Family, Gender-based violence, Labor & Employment, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Right to Information, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
Jhody is the Founder/Director of the Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (LEAH)and Director of Community Justice at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding. LEAH is the home of the National Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative and is the first Participatory Defense Hub in the state of Florida. LEAH is a grassroots non profit organization dedicated to SDG 16 and growing Legal Empowerment in the United States, especially in isolated, vulnerable and incarcerated communities. Jhody is a 2018 Soros Justice Fellow and formerly incarcerated Jailhouse Lawyer. Jhody worked as a central Florida organizer on Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with Felony Convictions. In 2019 she received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award and the Peacebuilder of the Year award. She is also the founder of the Florida Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.
Jhody aspires to become a certified license human rights attorney and teacher of the law. She also intends to run for and hold public office. Through the Namati network she hopes to gain the knowledge, relationships and resources expand access to justice for All in her community, state, country and around the world. She hopes to remove the barriers between people and the law and create opportunities for the incarcerated to learn the law during incarceration and achieve their law degrees while incarcerated, she also hopes grow community paralegals in the communities she serve. Jhody is proud Mother, community peacebuilder, defender of Justice and Black Woman.

Learning Agenda Cohort

Mohammed Zanna

Joined April 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information
Am Mohammed Zanna born 01/01/1970 working as a training community paralegal fighting child trafficking for the last 6yrs and advocating for equal rights for PWDS for over 10yrs. Am also a person living with disability, originally from Borno state, Northeast Nigeria. I have also been involved it fight against forced evictions as an evictee myself through Nigerian Slums/informal settlements federation

Siti Rakhma Mary Herwati

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation
Joined August 2019
Interests: Environmental Justice
Siti Rakhma Mary Herwati at present works as the co-chair for knowledge management at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Jakarta. From 2000 to 2011, she joined the Semarang Legal Aid Institute, Central Java, an office under the YLBHI, became the Director from 2008-2011. As a public interest lawyers, she handled many cases mainly land grabbing and environment.

From 2011 to 2013, she worked as Program Head for forest policy and conflict resolution at the Association for Community-Based and Ecological Law-Reform (HuMa) in Jakarta. Besides, she joined Public Interest Lawyer Network (PILNet) in Jakarta who actively assist farmers who have criminalized for defending their land rights. Her education backgrounds are law, environment and urban studies, and human rights. Her Bachelor is Law Study from Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java. Rahma has a master from Soegijapranata Catholic University Semarang, Central Java in Environment and Urban Studies. Her second master is from Mahidol University, Thailand in Human Rights.

Her interests and expertise are agrarian reform, natural resources, and environmental studies. She has published her articles and writings about legal aid, human rights, land grabbing, land forest conflict, agrarian reform, and environment in some books, chapter of some books, bulletins, a journal, and newspapers.

At present, she assists human rights defender from 15 offices in doing their Participatory Action Research for agrarian and natural resources issue. She also actively trained paralegals and participant of in structural legal aid trainings conducted by Indonesia Legal Aid Institute and its offices. Besides, she also teaches the subject Agrarian Law in STHI Jentera Jakarta.

Aditia Bagus Santoso

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation
Joined August 2017
Interests: Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Labor & Employment, Livelihoods
Vice Head of Knowledge Management in Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation

Alex Ssebukalu

Land and Equity Movement in Uganda...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Generalist Legal Services, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am a development practitioner with a bachelors degree in Development Studies and currently working with Land and Equity Movement in Uganda as a Project Officer. I take the role of managing project roles and teams where Land and Equity Movementin Uganda is involved. I oversee project tasks to see that we harvest the best out of the projects intended objectives. Joining this network will with no doubt sharpen my mindset on knowledge about justice as I share with other members in the same cohort. I also intend to feed on legal empowerment knowledge with the support of the network materials.

Samuel Nguiffo

Centre pour l’Environnement et le...
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights
I was trained as a lawyer, and have worked in communities for the past 25 years, helping to provide legal support to communities affected by large and small investments on land and natural resources. Using the law as a tool to protect the environment, promote development and ensuring dignity of the poor have been my leitmotiv for all these years.I'm looking for experiences from around the world that can be adapted and replicated in my environment, and would also like to share our work.

Nathaniah Jacobs

United Kingdom  
International Institute for Environment...
Joined August 2019
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Livelihoods
I am a South African lawyer with more than 10 years experience working on the enforcement and protection of land rights. Through my work with a public interest human rights organisation in South Africa I have had the opportunity to develop and litigate a number of cases aimed at developing and enforcing laws surrounding land reform and restitution, tenure security and urban housing rights. I have also been involved in developing community land governance structures and promoting gender equality within the context of land tenure security. Following a Masters in Development Studies I moved to Ethiopia, where I worked as a law and policy advisor to the Federal Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission. Currently, I am based in the Scotland where I work as a Senior Researcher within the Legal Tools Team of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). My work is currently focused on advancing and strengthening land governance practice within the context of large scale land-based investments.

Vatanya Konchanan

Center for Social Development Studies...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Policy Advocacy
IR student, interested in Refugee policy (especially Australia), Feminist, social movement.

Anneke Meerkotter

South Africa  
Southern Africa Litigation Centre
Joined March 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Health, Policy Advocacy, Right to Information, Women's Rights
I am the Executive Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) - we work throughout Southern Africa to promote human rights and the rule of law. Our mission is to promote and advance human rights, democratic governance, rule of law and access to justice in Southern Africa through strategic litigation, advocacy and capacity strengthening. We believe in the promotion of democratic values, human dignity, substantive equality and non-discrimination. We focus our work on communities who are marginalised and face challenges in accessing legal, social and environmental justice.
We strive to foster an environment which respects the physical, mental and social well-being of our clients, partners and staff and encourages human flourishing. We strive to work in an inclusive, accountable, responsive, effective, consultative and empowering manner.

Ruth Kaima

Centre for Human Rights, Education,...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Criminal Justice, Gender-based violence, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Policy Advocacy, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am a 33 year old single mother of one, a Lawyer by profession working as litigation officer for Center for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA). My work mainly involves embarking in strategic interests litigation, private prosecution in sexual violence cases and defending victims of malicious prosecution. I also oversee all legal related matters for the organisation, both administratively and project side. Before attaining my Law degree, I worked as a paralegal officer as well as a project officer for CHREAA for 9 years (2006 -2015). As a Paralegal, I was involved in empowering prisoners and detainees in detention centers on basic legal court process to enable them to ably defend themselves in court. I was also involved in Community Mobile clinics where we would teach the communities on different topics like human rights, domestic violence, land issues and general access to justice. I have worked in several community projects that involve empowering communities to demand access to justice and accountability from service providers. I have also been involved in several legal research projects. For example, i was involved in a research that unearthed the ills of vagrancy laws in Malawi. I was also involved in a resentencing project of those who were convicted under mandatory death sentencing upon conviction of murder. I have also been involved in several advocacy works lobbying for law reform and other policies. One of the greatest advocacy work i was involved in involved advocacy for the repealing of the rogue and vagabond offence under petty offences, was also part of the team that successfully advocated for an increase in prison budget to cater for sanitary materials for female prisoners, and the amendment of the HIV/AIDS bill which had discriminatory provisions. Currently, as head of legal at CHREAA I have engaged in several cases against police brutality. I am Currently pursuing prosecution of cases of perpetrators of torture, several civil cases for compensation of victims of human rights abuses. I have also been involved in several strategic litigation cases. My entire career has centered upon promotion and protection of human rights, mainly towards access to justice both at the informal as well as the formal level. Therefore, joining this network will be a boost to my already vast experience in assisting the marginalised groups.

Annette Mbogoh

Kituo cha Sheria – Legal Advice Centre
Joined November 2020
Interests: Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Labor & Employment, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
I am the Executive Director of Kituo Cha Sheria-Legal Advice Centre. I am a social justice champion and academic. I am looking to network with other like minded individuals, share experiences and learn on programming and best practices in legal empowerment worldwide.


Kituo cha Sheria – Legal Advice Centre
Joined June 2020
Interests: Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Labor & Employment, Right to Information
I am human rights advocate with a passion in ensuring access to justice by the poor and marginalized, constitutionalism and social change. I am the programme coordinator of the Legal Aid and Education Department and looking forward to working with like minded individuals and institutions to ensure access to justice.

Sheila Grace Formento

Alternative Law Groups (ALG)
Joined February 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice, Gender-based violence, Policy Advocacy, Women's Rights
I am a human rights and child rights advocate, a community organizer, and a lawyer.

I am the current National Coordinator of the Alternative Law Groups-Secretariat (ALG), a coalition of eighteen (18) legal resource NGOs in the Philippines that adhere to the principles and values of alternative or developmental law. ALG members’ operations cover a wide area of concerns involving justice issues of the poor and marginalized groups in the Philippines. These include issues on women, labor, peasant, fisherfolk, children, urban poor, indigenous peoples, persons living with HIV-AIDS, local governance, and the environment.

I graduated with a bachelors’ degree in Community Development from the University of the Philippines. While working full time, I earned my Bachelor of Laws degree at the Arellano University School of Law in 2017. I was admitted to the Philippine bar in 2018.

At a young age, I was decided in pursuing my career as a community organizer and work with the marginalized and vulnerable sectors. Before joining ALG as National Deputy Coordinator/ National Program Coordinator in 2019, I served as a National Training Officer for the Philippines Against Child Trafficking (PACT) from 2009 to 2019. PACT is a national coalition of Civil Society Organizations and individual child rights advocates for child protection against trafficking in the Philippines.

My work experience also includes organizing Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPC) and Local Councils Against Trafficking and VAWC (LCAT-VAWC); implementing capacity building activities for communities, children, social workers, and law enforcers: and teaching college students at the Dela Salle University under the Civic Welfare Training Service program.

My 20 years of involvement in the development work has led me to immerse myself in the different struggles and issues of several marginalized sectors such as fisherfolk, women, urban poor communities, and children. I also engaged different government agencies in strengthening protection mechanisms for women and children.

Rene Clemente

Alternative Law Groups (ALG)
Joined May 2015
A Program Officer working at Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a network of 18 legal resource NGOs in the Philippines working on human rights, social justice, community empowerment, greater access to justice, and peace-building.

Adrian Di Giovanni

International Development Research...
Joined October 2015
A lawyer with extensive expertise in human rights and the legal aspects of development. Currently with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) where I manage a series of research projects in around 15 countries in Africa and Latin America that focus on public law and accountability in the developing world.

Before joining IDRC, I worked for the Department of Justice Canada’s Human Rights Law Section, where he provided legal advice on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada’s international human rights obligations. I have represented Canada in litigation before UN human rights tribunals and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Also worked in the World Bank’s legal department and helped launch the Nordic Trust Fund, a multi-year initiative on human rights and the World Bank.

I hold an LLM in international law from New York University and an LLB from the University of Toronto. Member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and an honorary member of the Uganda Law Society.

Contributed Resources:

Ramata Thioune

International Development Research...
Joined February 2018
Interests: Environmental Justice
Economist and Environmentalist by background, I'm currently a Senior Program Specialist with the Canada International Development Research Center (IDRC) oversighting research on Governance, Security and Justice in Africa. Looking forward to knowledge sharing on land related issues particularly on community governance and land rights.

Naiyana Thanawattho

Asylum Access Thailand
Joined April 2021
Interests: Policy Advocacy
I joined Asylum Access Thailand (AAT) since January 2019 as Executive Director. My expertise is in human rights, refugee issues, child rights, child protection, emergency response and M&E, My overall work at AAT is as follows:
Oversee operations, programming, and policy advocacy at Asylum Access in Thailand with 17 staff members and 6 volunteers. Ensure good quality legal services, community legal empowerment programming for urban refugee population from over 45 countries around the world. Advocate for policy and legal framework changes for refugees to have legal status that will enable them to live safely, move freely, attend school, work, and rebuild their lives.

Actively contribute to the promotion of the human rights for refugees by joining key networks such as the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), Immigration Detention Thematic Working Group of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM), and CRSP. Meanwhile, also increase the visibility of Asylum Access Thailand in different arenas at national, regional and global level.

Through the role of CRSP Coordinator, lead the Coalition which is the main coalition working to promote rights to protection of urban refugees in Thailand, in its advocacy work. Develop policy strategies, work plan and monitoring plan for CRSP focusing on the implementation of the National Screening Mechanism and the community-based alternatives to detention for children and family.

Big part of AAT work is on legal empowerment. We work with a team of paralegal who are refugees from different communities in Bangkok, coming from 15 different countries. We provide them with knowledge on basic and relevant Thai law that will enable refugees to at least live safely in Thai society despite their illegal status. The paralegals assist AAT in linking us with the community members in need of legal protection. We present these issues as evidence to change law and policy in Thailand to enable refugees to be able to live safely, move freely, work, go to school, and get basic health care. Joining the course, I hope, will enable me to improve our legal empowerment program and collect more evidence to advocate for systematic changes at the national and global level.

Before joining AAT, I worked with Save the Children, UNHCR and Unicef.

Jane Weru

Akiba Mashinani Trust
Joined November 2017
Interests: Housing Rights & Informal Settlements
Jane Weru is a lawyer by profession and holds a Master’s Degree in NGO Management from the London School of Economics. From 1993 to 2001, she worked with Kituo Cha Sheria, a legal aid and human rights organization in Nairobi, first as head of legal services and then as Executive Director. Most of her work focused on public interest litigation on behalf of poor communities threatened with forceful evictions and violent demolitions. In 2001, she helped found Pamoja Trust, a nonprofit organization that mobilized and supported grassroots movements of the urban poor by providing technical, legal and financial support. From 2006 to 2010, Jane served as a Board Member of the Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), an international organization of slum dwellers federations with affiliates in 37 countries of the global south. In 2010, Jane served as Team Leader for the Kenya Railway Relocation Action Plan for the Ministry of Transport supported by the World Bank for the resettlement of 10,000 households sitting on the railway reserve in Kibera and Mukuru. She is currently the Executive Director and founder member of Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), a non-profit organization working on developing innovative community led solutions to housing and land tenure problems for the urban poor in Kenya. Jane has since August 2018 been the Project leader of the Mukuru Special Planning Area, a project of the Nairobi County Government, aimed at developing an integrated development plan to improve the lives of the 100,000 households that presently occupy over 600 acres of land within the city. Jane is an Ashoka Fellow and also served as a member of the National Task Force for the preparation of the Community Land Bill and the Evictions and Resettlement Bill.

Hui Ying Tham

Asylum Access Malaysia
Joined April 2021
Interests: Other, Policy Advocacy
I am a human rights practitioner with over 9 years of experience in legal and rights-based advocacy. I am currently Executive Director of Asylum Access Malaysia, a Malaysian refugee rights organisation that aims towards making human rights a reality for refugees in Malaysia through a combination of policy advocacy, legal services and community legal empowerment. As Executive Director, I oversee the organisational pursuit of impact and am directly responsible for promoting systemic change through advocacy to ensure all refugees in Malaysia are able to live safely, move freely, work fairly and rebuild their lives. I am looking to gain more insight to better articulate the connection between our legal empowerment work with systemic change.

Nelson Ncube

People’s Process on Housing and...
Joined April 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Health, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements
I am a Development practitioner who has worked in the development sector for the past 20 years dealing with property and land rights for slum dwellers in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Through working with a national movement of slumdwellers in the Zambia and Homeless and Poor People 's Federation and their support NGO called People's Process on Housing and Poverty , over 25 000 people in Zambia have been helped to regularise and gain security of the land they had settled on "illegally". Through my passion for Human rights , I was forced to study law and I am currently waiting for my results for the bar exams are set for in February . Corollary to the foregoing , it is my hope that I will use my legal skills to help the poor to fight and defend their land and property rights. I would like to join the network to gain knowledge and exposure on fighting and advocating for people's housing and land rights. I am keen on learning from others how they have been handling and fighting land and property right violations in their respective countries. I bring to the network pragmatic and innovative strategies our alliance has used to prevent and thwart evictions against people residing in unplanned settlements.

Andrew Maki

Justice and Empowerment Initiatives
Joined December 2011
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Community / Customary Land Rights, Criminal Justice, Environmental Justice, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Right to Information, Women's Rights
I am Co-Director and Co-Founder of Justice & Empowerment Initiatives-Nigeria (JEI), a non-governmental non-profit organization whose mission is to work side by side with poor and marginalized members of the society to peacefully seek justice and accountability through provision of free legal service and protection of their human rights.

Messan Kounagbe

Justice and Empowerment Initiatives
Joined January 2021
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Education, Gender-based violence, Generalist Legal Services, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Labor & Employment, Traditional / Customary Justice, Women's Rights
Messan KOUNAGBE, Je suis Juriste de formation, j'ai exercé en tant Juriste dans des cabinets d'avocats au Bénin pendant 10ans, je suis actuellement Juriste dans une ONG de défense des droits de l'homme appelée JEI, je suis formateur de parajuristes communautaires en français et en langue locale, je suis superviseur des activités des parajuristes pour l'autonomisation juridique et judiciaire, de même je suis responsable de l'équipe de plaidoyer. Je suis aussi Président de l'ONG Justice And Prosperity For All qui intervient aussi dans l'autonomisation juridique et les activités parajuridiques et de plaidoyer.Nous défendons la cause des populations démunies qui n'ont pas les moyens de s'offrir les services d'un avocat. Nous faisons également le plaidoyer auprès des autorités administratives compétentes pour défendre les injustices sociales individuelles, collectives et communautaires. Je suis intéressé pour rejoindre le réseau car c'est l'union qui fait la force, aussi pour partager les expériences avec d'autres, unir nos voix afin de contribuer à promouvoir la justice sociale.

Mohammed Sani

Justice and Empowerment Initiatives
Joined April 2021
Interests: Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Housing Rights & Informal Settlements, Livelihoods, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Policy Advocacy
BSC Sociology; Community Paralegal@Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI-NIGERIA)/Community Legal Support Initiatives.Coordinator Policy & Advocacy, Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation; affiliated to Slum International

Poorvi Chitalkar

United States  
Joined September 2020
Poorvi Chitalkar is the Learning Agenda Specialist at Namati. In this role, she leads efforts to generate new knowledge on legal empowerment, connecting research and program experimentation to drive learning. She supports collaboration among practitioners from Namati and the Legal Empowerment Network as well as researchers to advance comparative learning across diverse contexts.

Erin Kitchell

United States  
Joined July 2016
Interests: Community / Customary Land Rights, Environmental Justice, Governance, Accountability & Transparency
I am the Director of Global Programs at Namati where I work closely with each of our program teams on strategies for legal empowerment. I focus on program design, strategic learning, and action research to advance social change. My background is in land and natural resource rights in West Africa. I've worked on community-based programs for participatory environmental governance in Senegal and Mali as well as doing research on how decentralization is impacting community land rights and the opportunities it can open for enhancing accountability to local citizens. I'm also currently affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.