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international development

international development, legal empowerment

Justice and Development: the Post-2015 Agenda

Recently, the new post-2015 agenda has been determined — and it’s called The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  After advocacy by civil society organizations, the new 2030 agenda includes — for the first time — targets on justice and governance, recognizing the importance of fundamental rights, transparency, accountability, and access to justice to sustainable and stable societies. Goal 16 is “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”  This goal, impressively, includes reducing all forms of violence; ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence against children; promoting the…

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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, public interest law, women's rights

The role of access to justice in combating gender violence

In the worldwide movement to end domestic and gender-based violence, most efforts to combat violence against women and girls fall into two spheres: so-called prevention and response — similar to interventions in other realms, such as the healthcare field. ‘Prevention’ efforts approach gender violence with the idea that breaking down systems of patriarchy and oppression is the ultimate goal, and the root cause of gender violence. If we can disrupt the patriarchal order, we can begin to more effectively reduce and end gender violence. Many prevention efforts seek to change social and cultural norms as an attempt to reduce gender inequity. By changing…

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international development, legal empowerment, public interest law

New: evidence review of legal empowerment

Namati has just released an excellent and comprehensive review of 199 studies documenting the evidence related to legal empowerment. Does legal aid and awareness ‘work’? If so, how can we measure and conceive of its impact? As Namati writes: Our main finding is that legal empowerment, in all its myriad forms and wide range of contexts, works. In total, 97 per cent of the studies reported at least one positive change. Even programs that failed to make the changes they were designed for had other, unexpected positive effects on communities, individuals and the law. Some of the positive changes Namati noted were:…

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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, personal, public interest law, women's rights

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 published by the World Bank Justice and Development Working Paper Series. I could not be more thankful to BRAC for allowing me to conduct this research and to study their access to justice and dispute resolution model, and also to the World Bank for choosing to…

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international development, legal empowerment, public interest law, women's rights

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 on paper to protect women’s rights, including strong rights and entitlements relating to domestic violence and dowry. Yet, the challenge that I always observe comes down, once again, to the implementation gap. When it comes to implementation, I often turn to legal aid — can people…

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international development

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 much used in the U.S. to describe going to India – or Kenya – or Afghanistan – or any country, even if you’re just going to the country headquarters in a major city. I do think that living and working abroad, and meeting, listening to, and…

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human rights, international development, travel

Salone Stories: a country of contradictions?

Anyone who visits Salone in the rainy season will inevitably remember the country’s color as green – a vivid, lush, and verdant landscape broken up by the contrasting deep reddish copper color of the dirt roads that wind through the most isolated villages, and by the dry yellow of huts built from sticks and thatch. My memories of the summer months will forever be imbued with the sound of rain pounding heavily on the zinc roof of my room, the taste of roasted corn and coconut water sold by roadside vendors, and the thrilling but absolutely terrifying okada [motorcycle] rides…

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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, personal, travel, women's rights

Salone Stories: Justice and Conflict in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is quite firmly post-conflict, with the war soon receding into the space of distant memory. And yet, the wounds of the war still appear raw at times, at least directly beneath the surface, where anger and frustration seem simmering in a pot threatening to boil over once again. The ghosts of wartime past still linger in conversations. One man tells me about fleeing the war and being forced to be a refugee in neighboring Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Liberia. Another young woman tells me that her father was killed in the war, leaving her family – a mother…

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innovation, international development, social change

Lessons from Jacqueline Novogratz

Using my newly-founded freedom upon completing 1L, I picked up “The Blue Sweater,” a thought-provoking and insightful book by Jacqueline Novogratz (I know, this is years too late!). Novogratz presents a number of key arguments for better philanthropy, and the need to build companies that serve the poor, rather than just provide charity. While my work largely focuses on the non-profit side of things, and I still sustain a belief that strengthening civil society, local leadership and the non-profit sector (along with the government) can make an impact, I do think that investing in social enterprises and businesses that make…

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human rights, international development, public interest law, social change, women's rights

A weekend of rebellious lawyering

“You don’t judge a society by how they treat the powerful, but by how they treat the poor and incarcerated.”  “What matters is not just what’s in your head, but what’s in your heart.” — Bryan Stevenson I recently had the chance to attend a wonderful conference on “rebellious lawyering.” It offered the opportunity to step out of the law school campus, reflect on my passion for public interest and social just lawyering, and come back with a renewed perspective. Before law school, I never would’ve dreamed I’d utter the words, I love civil procedure and property, nor would I have realized…

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