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Promoting Women’s Rights by Indigenous Means: An Innovative Project in Kenya

By: Tanja Chopra

This is a report written by Justice for the Poor, a World Bank global research and development program which is aimed at informing, designing and supporting pro-poor approaches to justice reform.

Western institutions and systems of justice have developed as a result of socio-political processes, historical events and philosophical debates that have taken place over many centuries. Such systems therefore resonate with European societies, but when imported in post-colonial contexts they tend to become only partially embedded in urban centers. Meanwhile, in rural settings the delivery of justice usually continues to be based on local histories and values, which can differ substantially from community to community.

Reform programs in all sectors often ignore the value systems, social structures and realities of the local communities they address, therefore delivering mixed results.  Further innovative programs are required to foster meaningful connections between local social structures and value systems and official justice institutions. The key to success will be the ability of different systems to adapt.  Interventions may adjust the official system to local realities, but another possible focus is on the transformation of cultural values of individual communities.

Processes of transformation allow change to be set in motion from within a society itself. This canmean that ‘positive’ values are emphasized and re-instated where lost, or ‘negative’ values are transformed into positive ones. The effect is that state institutions can gain legitimacy in the eyes of local communities, and official rights are promoted.


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Uploaded on: Dec 08, 2015
Last Updated: Dec 15, 2015
Year Published: 2007
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