Legal empowerment has the potential to enhance sector development work by building the capacity of project beneficiaries to participate in and benefit from development projects. But, to harness its power, development specialists need to understand the ins and outs of this field. This document is designed to be used as a practical guide to undertaking legal empowerment work. It seeks to give program specialists:
(i) a basic understanding of legal empowerment as a concept; and
(ii) practical strategies for designing, implementing, and monitoring legal empowerment projects.
This guide provides a background to legal empowerment work. It contains a conceptual framework that describes the
(i) importance of legal empowerment and its potential role in advancing broader development goals (see page 3);
(ii) constraints that women and other disadvantaged groups face in participating in development initiatives (see page 6);
(iii) different levels of legal empowerment interventions and their benefits (see page 18); and
(iv) role of legal empowerment in sector development initiatives (see page 19).
It also discusses the strategic factors for consideration and suggested approaches to follow in designing and implementing a legal empowerment component to complement a sector development project. The guide uses tables and flow charts to summarize the steps to be followed, and provides guidance on developing and applying rigorous empirical tools to monitor and assess the impact of legal empowerment activities.
This guide is the product of a three-country Asian Development Bank (ADB) technical assistance initiative on Legal Empowerment for Women and Disadvantaged Groups (6248-REG). This project sought to enhance the institutional capacity, knowledge base, and practical experience of ADB, other international agencies, and domestic legal service and development organizations in designing, implementing, and assessing the impact of legal empowerment activities. Its activities aimed to advance the rights and interests of women and other disadvantaged groups. The Asia Foundation (TAF) implemented the project in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan. The project built on a seven-country study by ADB in 2001 on legal empowerment’s role in advancing governance and poverty reduction. The project:
(i) reviewed experiences in legal empowerment in the three countries;
(ii) tested legal empowerment strategies to increase access to basic social services and productive resources by women and disadvantaged groups; and
(iii) developed recommendations for incorporating legal empowerment components within ADB loans.