Grassroots legal advocates are the common thread that links all of Namati’s programs and the Global Legal Empowerment Network. Depending on context, they may be called barefoot lawyers, community advisors and mobilisers, or even health advocates or environmental coordinators. Quite often they are simply known as community paralegals.
Whatever they are called, they share common characteristics – they are trained in basic law and in skills like mediation, organizing, education, and advocacy. They form a dynamic, creative frontline that can engage formal and traditional institutions alike.
Grassroots legal advocates in our global network tackle justice challenges across a wide variety of communities and issues, from women’s empowerment to prisoners’ rights. Namati’s specialist grassroots advocates work on land, health, citizenship and environmental justice, but we also support the work of generalist advocates who provide primary justice services where lawyers are rare and injustice common – such as in post-war Sierra Leone.
We are also overseeing a global research study into how paralegals operate in different contexts.
Justice at the Frontline
The slums of Nairobi are some of the toughest places in the world to live. Injustice makes life tougher. Read how paralegals supported by network member Kituo cha Sheria are solving conflicts and protecting the weak.View Gallery
African Voices of Legal Empowerment
The first continent-wide meeting of grassroots legal advocates, or community paralegals, took place in Kampala in July 2012. These interviews illuminate the amazing work they do and the issues they face making justice a reality for people across Africa.Watch the Interviews
Turning Towards Justice
Photographer Aubrey Wade travelled to Sierra Leone for Namati to document how paralegals are helping people negotiate a legal system with both traditional and formal institutions.View Gallery
Women Behind Bars
This film by IRIN captures the work of AdvocAid, one of Namati's partner organisations in Sierra Leone. It focuses on the efforts of paralegals Marvel and Victoria to help women who come into contact with the police and prison system.Watch the Film
Middle Eastern Voices of Legal Empowerment
In 2013 Namati held the first-ever Middle Eastern meeting of legal empowerment organisations. Leading justice practitioners told us about the kinds of issues their programs deal with.Read the interviews
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