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Legal Empowerment Strategies in Bangladesh: Empowering Women and Poor People through Legal Means

By: Daphne Keevil Harrold

Legal empowerment is a process and a goal that involves the use of law to increase the control of disadvantaged populations over their lives through a combination of education and action.  The success of legal empowerment work will be measured by looking for indicators of change that demonstrate improvements in the lives or position of women or the poor in some way.

This paper will analyze the legal empowerment initiatives of four organizations through a variety of analytical frameworks. For organizational purposes this paper distinguishes between macro-level interventions (targeted at Bangladeshi laws, national policies, and national institutions), meso-level interventions (targeted at communities in rural areas and institutions from the local level to the district level), and micro-level interventions (targeting the household and individual level).

For each program this paper will look at the impact of the legal empowerment work undertaken. This paper will look for indicators of change that have somehow altered the status quo to benefit women and/or the poor.  Where possible this paper will also examine interactions with powerful community members and will explore how their needs have been addressed and if they are impeding legal empowerment efforts.  Interactions with women and the poor will be examined to explore which programs are meeting their demands and which are service suppliers with a vested interest in trying to increase demand for those services.  In order to examine legal empowerment strategies in Bangladesh this paper looks at four organizations of different sizes.  Two organizations are national, one is medium-sized and regional, and one is a much smaller regional organization.