Legal Empowerment Experiences from Latin America

This publication leads the way toward a greater effort to generate robust knowledge about legal empowerment practices in Latin America, to promote a dialogue based on grassroots experiences, and to show evidence about how legal empowerment helps to foster access to justice. In the following pages, we offer five concrete experiences drawn from different countries in Latin America, presented in the voices of Network members. These case studies showcase diverse legal empowerment approaches taken up by civil society organizations and state institutions alike. They all demonstrate how putting the law in people’s hands has contributed to improving lives and advancing justice. The first case study, “Community Defenders Organized for the Right to a Life Free of Violence,” elaborates on a multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral, and intercultural strategy for empowering Bolivian women to know their rights, change cultural mindsets, seek support in legal cases around gender-based violence, and become agents of change. In “The Souza Ramos Favela: Defending the Right to Live in the City,” a partnership between a Brazilian neighborhood association, pro bono lawyers, and a civil society organization leverages legal information to improve a community’s land tenure, living conditions, and access to basic services. The next case study, “PLP 2.0: Domestic Violence and the Popular Legal Promoters Support Network in the Restinga Neighborhood” reveals how equipping a strong network of grassroots legal promoters with connections to public institutions and a well-designed mobile application can reduce gender-based violence in Brazilian communities. In our fourth case, “Legal Empowerment as a Tool for Demanding Rights and Recognition in Labor Relations for Indigenous Workers on Coffee Farms in Costa Rica,” workers’ rights advocates and a popular legal education campaign in Costa Rica help indigenous laborers to file suit for employment violations for the first time. In a change of pace, we explore the dynamics of legal empowerment policies of the Argentine government in “Legal Empowerment and State Legal Organizations In Light of the Voices of Domestic Violence Victims.” To conclude, we share the “Declaration of Villa Inflamable for Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment for All” to give a sense of the Global Legal Empowerment Network’s next steps. This resource is also available in Spanish, which can be accessed here.