Accessing Justice: Models, Strategies and Best Practices on Women’s Empowerment

Full citation: IDLO, “Accessing Justice: Models, Strategies and Best Practices on Women’s Empowerment,” IDLO REPORT (2013). – This paper highlights some of the challenges and solutions for women’s access to justice in diverse legal systems. It shows that women face structural and cultural barriers to accessing justice – insufficient knowledge of rights and remedies, illiteracy or poor literacy, and lack of resources or time to participate in justice processes. This is all the more so as women usually have intensive family responsibilities. Even where women can access the formal justice sector, the outcomes of the process often fall far short of those envisaged by international standards, particularly with regard to property rights, inheritance, divorce and child custody, and spousal abuse. Focusing on legal empowerment as a way to improve both access to justice and the quality of justice women receive, the study presents strategies and best practices in both formal and informal justice systems. Legal empowerment approaches share one core concept: using the law to enable disadvantaged groups to access justice and realize basic rights. They include legal education; legal aid services; support for non-discriminatory dispute resolution fora to complement or supplement informal systems; training of paralegals; and rights awareness. In considering whether such approaches can improve the quality of justice women receive, Accessing Justice brings together a number of IDLO-sponsored case studies in Afghanistan, India, Namibia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Morocco, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. These highlight a variety of lessons for development practitioners, both in terms of engagement with the informal legal sector and, more generally, for the use of legal empowerment and top-down / bottom-up strategies. In an appropriate context, carefully designed legal empowerment strategies may constitute a valuable contribution to improving women’s access to justice.
[Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions – Annotated Bibliography]

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