Notes from Nairobi

This March, I had the incredible fortune of going to Kenya for a week, and had an absolutely wonderful time. The country is beautiful, picturesque and vibrant. Things are constantly changing and developing with the country’s new Constitution and decentralization process, and there is a sense of hope, possibility and optimism. It was an amazing time to visit the country. I wanted to share a few pictures!

2014-03-23 09.50.33-1Church in Nairobi on a Sunday.

2014-03-17 18.57.24A visit to the Supreme Court – a new and dynamic institution in itself.

2014-03-18 12.01.52Visits to iHub, an awesome space for tech startups and social enterprises to grow.

2014-03-19 15.02.14Public artwork in Nairobi; a city with many architectural and artistic gems.

2014-03-19 15.37.58Another view of the church in downtown Nairobi.

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2014-03-20 13.16.06Some enlightening conversations with non-profits providing access to legal services and medical services to survivors of rape and domestic violence in and around Kibera. Amazing work is being done expanding women’s access to justice in a critical time of need.

2014-03-20 13.47.04PAWA254: a space for artists and activists to gather, work & collaborate. Beautiful!

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2014-03-21 09.13.47Overlooking the Great Rift Valley on our way out of Nairobi. Such an amazing place.

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Kenya (March 2014)David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage!

2014-03-16 15.23.52Safari in Nairobi National Park!

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2014-03-21 15.11.43Waterfall in Lake Nakuru National Park

2014-03-21 17.57.09Ending with a surreal, ethereal sunset boat ride over Lake Naivasha.

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TEDx Talk on Access to Justice

I wanted to share a fantastic TEDx talk I just encountered focused on why you should care about access to justice. I think he articulates, pretty well, why I think access to justice is simply so important and why governments should prioritize and fund legal services for the poor. I also loved his idea of a universal legal services/access to justice fund; though I don’t think we’re there politically, it sounds like a fantastic suggestion.


New World Bank Working Paper on Paralegals in Philippines

A great new World Bank Justice & Development Working Paper has been published by Jennifer Franco, Hector Soliman, and Maria Roda Cisnero, focusing on community based paralegalism in the Philippines. The abstract is as follows:

Community-based paralegalism has been active in the Philippines for the past 30 years, and yet its contribution to access to justice and the advancement of the rights and entitlements of the poor has been largely undocumented. This paper attempts to provide a framework study on the history, nature, and scope of paralegal work in the Philippines, based on the experience of 12 organizations that are active in the training and development of community-oriented paralegals. The study first provides a working definition of a community-based paralegal, and then examines the work of paralegals, their systems of accountability or lack thereof, and issues regarding recognition by the state and civil society actors. It also explores facilitating and hindering factors that aid or impinge upon the paralegals’ effectiveness. A major contributor to the work of paralegals was the democratization process after the overthrow of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and the continuing evolution of legal rights spurred by the relatively progressive constitution ratified in 1987. Three dimensions of paralegal’s work are identified and explored, namely, building rights awareness, settling private disputes, and increasing state and corporate accountability. The study ends with conclusions and recommendations with regard to sustainability, monitoring and evaluation, funding, and the prospects for paralegal work over the long term.

There is some excellent analysis here of the long-term paralegal movement in the Philippines, as well as recognition of paralegals by the state and some thorny issues that arise when working in the context of violence against women — my specific interest.


Interview with Dr. Keerty Nakray on Gender Violence in India

Today, I am excited to introduce Dr. Keerty Nakray, Associate Professor and Assistant Director, Centre for Women, Law and Social Change at the Jindal Global Law School, who has kindly taken time to speak with me about gender violence, budgeting and potential solutions in India. She has worked extensively on issues relating to gender violence, public health, andContinue Reading


Incredible reminder on the violence of success & prestige

Please watch the above TEDx Talk by Alok Vaid-Menon. Then digest. And share. He provides some much needed reminders to reconsider how we view success in this world, and what it truly will take to contribute to social justice and social change. Some of my favorite quotes: Should you desire to be successful you will not actuallyContinue Reading


New article on legal empowerment in Bangladesh!

I am truly excited to announce my very first published paper! I’ve been working on this paper since 2012, when I spent two months in Bangladesh researching BRAC’s expansive and community-based legal aid and legal empowerment program, and particularly its impact on women’s rights. I’m very happy to say that my piece has been publishedContinue Reading


Legal aid as a right: India’s example

This past January, I had the fortune of researching Muslim women’s legal rights under family law and inheritance law, as well as civil laws relating to domestic violence, child marriage, and dowry in India. It was a fantastic learning experience, and what I learned about India truly impressed me. India has some incredible laws onContinue Reading


Equality Now’s new report on child marriage

As part of a legal report I’m currently writing covering Muslim women’s legal rights in India, I have had to deal with the considerable and overlapping laws relating to child marriage, as well as the reality and commonality of child marriage here in India. This new report by international women’s rights organization, Equality Now, “ProtectingContinue Reading


Reflections on “the field”

I’ve just started a brief project in India, but I’ve immediately noticed the use of the word “field” here; it’s pervasive, and refers to going to the more rural Indian villages that projects are based in and where ‘beneficiaries’ (another jargony word I don’t love) are located. However, the word “field” is just as muchContinue Reading


New Year Reflections: 2013

This was a momentous year. I’d call it a marathon. It was a marathon – not necessarily (or at all) of the body – but of the soul, of the spirit, of the heart, of the brain. In all honesty, this year has left me fulfilled but also a bit exhausted, mentally and emotionally. It wasContinue Reading