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What do we know about legal empowerment? Mapping the Evidence

By: Laura Goodwin, Vivek Maru

For the first time we review here all available evidence on civil society-led legal empowerment efforts, defined as those that seek to increase the capacity of people to exercise their rights and to participate in processes of governing. To our knowledge this is the first review of its kind.

There is substantial evidence available on the impact of legal empowerment interventions. This review analyses 199 studies that address the results of a wide range of legal empowerment work. The studies cover interventions on every major continent, with Asia the most represented region, and draw data from evaluation methods including randomised control trials, surveys, interviews, and qualitative case studies.

The breadth and richness of this body of work suggest we should revisit previous perceptions that there is little evidence on what legal empowerment can achieve. The studies collected here not only provide a basis for understanding the accomplishments of prior work, but can inform the design of future programs and research initiatives.