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Legal empowerment offers something rare and beautiful: a strategy for pursuing justice that is working.

This process of equipping people to understand, use, and shape the law is not easy. We encounter corruption and steep power imbalances every day. Many paralegals face threats of retaliation. But despite these challenges, we are seeing real progress against injustice in every country where we work. And the Global Legal Empowerment Network is the strongest it’s been.

How We Create Impact

In the Countries Where We Work Directly

1. Paralegals work with communities to solve justice problems at the grassroots. Together, they protect community lands, enforce environmental law, and secure basic rights to healthcare and citizenship. These remedies improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year.
2. The individuals who work closely with the paralegals learn about their rights and how to realize them using the law. They often go on to support others in their communities, creating ripples of empowerment.
3. We draw on grassroots experience to advocate for changes that make the system better for everyone. Paralegals rigorously collect data on every case they handle. We assess that information to identify where systems are failing and how they can improve. Together with the communities with which we work, we use that information to advocate for reforms to laws and policies. These changes can positively affect entire nations.
And the cycle continues… Once reforms are adopted, paralegals and communities bring the new laws or policies to life by using them to solve specific problems. It is through this cycle that we advance justice and democratize law.

 

Legal Empowerment Cycle

Through the Global Legal Empowerment Network

4. We learn from each other to get better. We foster learning among network members, online and in-person. By sharing evidence, challenges, and lessons from practice, our community becomes more effective.
5. We strive to transform the policy environment for legal empowerment. Together with network members, we advocate for policies that will create the space and structures for our members to work effectively and independently.

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Our Direct Country Impact

In 2018, paralegals working with Namati and our partners supported community partners* in five countries to address injustices involving land, environment, healthcare, and citizenship.

155

Paralegals

19,737

Community Partners*

350,000+

People Who Directly Benefited

MILLIONS

PEOPLE POSITIVELY AFFECTED BY CHANGES TO LAWS AND SYSTEMS

*’Community partners’ are the individuals who work directly with paralegals to solve a justice problem
and are empowered to know, use, and shape the law in the process.

 

Citizenship Justice in Kenya

In 2018, a team of 24 community paralegals helped 463 individuals to secure legal identity documents, which allowed them and their families—939 people—to access essential services and take part in society.

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Health Justice in Mozambique

In 2018, a team of 42 paralegals in Mozambique helped 2,148 community partners to resolve 1,036 breakdowns in healthcare delivery, improving life-saving services for 180,000+ people.

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Environmental Justice in India

In 2018, 15 paralegals worked with 1,080 community partners to remedy 50 environmental violations in India, directly improving the health and livelihoods of over 150,000 people.

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Land & Environmental Justice in Myanmar

In 2018, 48 paralegals supported 840 community partners to secure their land rights, directly improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of over 7,500 people.

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Land & Environmental Justice in Kenya

In 2018, 9 community paralegals supported 5 rural Kenyan communities—made up of 19,000 people living on 100,000+ hectares—to strengthen land governance and pursue land rights.

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Land & Environmental Justice in Sierra Leone

In 2018, 10 community paralegals supported active clients across 4 districts to protect community lands and negotiate fair deals with investors, directly improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of over 9,000 people.

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Our Network Impact

The Global Legal Empowerment Network is the world’s largest community of grassroots justice practitioners. In 2018, our membership grew to over 1,700 groups and 6,000 individuals from every part of the world.

What Network Members Are Saying

The [learning exchange] was absolutely amazing. It helped me develop new ways of thinking of my work and challenges. It has connected me to many new people and networks who can benefit my work. I learned a lot about best practices and got new ideas from fellow participants.

Liesl Muller, Lawyers for Human Rights, South Africa

Citizenship Learning Exchange participant

As an organization, one of our challenges coming to the exchange program was how to build our legal support system. The program gave me a fresh perspective on how to handle the issues when I return back to the organization. [And] the financial sustainability session was amazing.

Bassey Bassey Ita, GREENCODE, Nigeria

Environmental Justice Learning Exchange participant

Getting all of these people together opens lots of ways forward…you don’t just see a textbook that tells you how it should be done. You hear from somebody telling you about the challenges they face and how they’ve gone about addressing them.

Hadeel Abdel Aziz, Justice Center for Legal Aid, Jordan

Middle East Regional Meeting on Legal Empowerment participant

This week has been confirming and empowering! I have never been more proud to be in the trenches doing the work of empowering people to reach their highest potential. They why is easy, but the legal empowerment course definitely provided the how!

Jhody Polk, Jailhouse Lawyer Initiative, USA

Legal Empowerment Leadership Course participant

 Stories of Legal Empowerment

Featured

Pressing for Privacy Rights - Silvia's Story

It was at the end of 2017 that Silvia* first noticed the sores on her skin. Over the coming months, they got worse. She developed a persistent fever and was constantly exhausted. By March, her weight had dropped from 85 kgs to 70. Silvia knew what the symptoms suggested; she…

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Community Paralegals

The Council and the Coal Giant - Aslam's Story

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Community Paralegals

From Witness to Problem Solver - U Win Naing Htay's Journey

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Community Paralegals

From a Land Grab to a Fair Deal - A Story from Masimra Town

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Annual Report

In 2018 we made major strides in our effort to put the power of law in people’s hands. Explore the facts and figures in our annual report—as well as the journeys of people like Samson in Kenya and Silvia in Mozambique, who learned how to use the law to overcome injustice.

Help Us Put the Power of Law in People’s Hands

We will put every dollar to work in building the movement for legal empowerment around the world.

This year, Open Society Foundations has agreed to match every two dollars we receive with an additional dollar. So your contribution will go even further.