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social change

social change, women's rights

Why domestic violence survivors stay

Why do domestic violence survivors stay in abusive relationships? If you’ve ever wondered — watch this incredible, inspiring talk from a strong woman — someone you may not think of when you envision a typical domestic violence victim/survivor. Lessons Learned: Domestic violence is so difficult particularly because it involves emotions. Once you fall in love with someone – and envision them as your soulmate – it’s hard to accept that they’re an abuser… even when they hold a gun to your head. Leaving – it isn’t as easy as you may think. In fact, leaving can be the most dangerous…

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legal empowerment, non-profit, public interest law, social change, women's rights

Accessing Justice: Best Practices for Women’s Legal Empowerment

The concept of legal empowerment seems to be gaining more traction, and I couldn’t be more excited. IDLO has released an excellent new report called “Accessing Justice: Models, Strategies and Best Practices on Women’s Empowerment.” The study is an excellent overview of legal empowerment and its complexities: legal education, legal services, dispute resolution, and its interactions with informal justice system as well as its ultimate impact on women’s empowerment. Here are some of the very interesting findings of the report: On Violence Against Women in Afghanistan: Comprehensive statistics on VAW in Afghanistan are not available. “Nonetheless, available data at this stage…

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career, issues, personal, social change, women's rights

Leaning In

In law school, raising your hand is a competition. Hands shoot up every second, thoughts are formulated rapidly with no room for deep thinking, and the spotlight is on you as eighty of your classmates train their eyes on you — often to raise their hand and proffer a counterpoint in the next minute. Professors call you out (the “socratic method”) and can question you about the minutiae of each case. This can be a hostile environment, especially for those of us who prefer to think in writing than in speech. At my core, I am a writer. I express…

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human rights, non-profit, social change, women's rights

The resilience of Afghan CSOs

Today, I’m excited to announce a guest post along with Mahfuza Folad – over at the Building Markets blog for the Professionalization of Afghan CSOs project. Here is an excerpt of the post, which focuses on some of the key challenges that Afghan civil society organizations face, how they are overcoming them, and the personal anecdotes of Mahfuza – a woman civil society activist: Despite the burst of negative press regarding corruption of charities in Afghanistan generated by Three Cups of Tea and author Greg Mortenson’s alleged financial mismanagement of the Central Asia Institute, the reality is that hundreds of courageous and…

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issues, social change

Hopeful once again

Yesterday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it was an apt day for the inauguration of our country’s first black President. I did not have the chance to attend the inauguration in D.C., but as always, I was inspired by President Obama’s speech, and by his words and hopes for the future. The President spoke about the next challenges facing our generation: climate change, gay rights, international development, and foreign policy. I especially loved his take on development — as justice, not charity: “And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims…

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human rights, issues, social change

Buzkashi Boys

I am so excited to see Buzkashi Boys, a movie about two young Afghan boys who want to become Buzkashi players, has been nominated for an Oscar! The trailer is moving, beautifully taken, and the cinematography is amazing. Check out the trailer here! The producer’s statement is wonderful, illustrating the innovative and exciting nature of this project (which also started on Kickstarter – how awesome!). Buzkashi Boys presented a new challenge at every turn, from rocket attacks near our shooting location to cultural differences and near disaster on the Buzkashi field. What kept us going was a shared love for…

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feature friday, legal empowerment, public interest law, social change

Feature Friday: African Voices of Legal Empowerment

Namati – a great new network on legal empowerment – has launched a wonderful new multimedia series called African Voices of Legal Empowerment.  The series includes a number of fascinating personal interviews with legal empowerment practitioners from all over the African continent discussing what they do. These lawyers and paralegals describe their work, tell stories of cases they’ve worked on, and describe how the work has changed them. The interviews are inspiring, and tell a rare story of legal aid and empowerment – and how it can improve lives in concrete ways. This is a story that needs to be…

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personal, public interest law, social change

Hope and the law: Inspiration from President Obama

A friend recently sent me an inspiring quote by Barack Obama from his book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. I think it sums up a lot of my own experience and thoughts surrounding law school – why I came, what I hope to do, and what my experience here has been. I went to Harvard Law School, spending most of three years in poorly lit libraries, poring through cases and statutes. The study of law can be disappointing at times, a matter of applying narrow rules and arcane procedure to an uncooperative reality; a sort of glorified…

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international development, non-profit, social change

Humility and the Ability to Admit Failure: Meeting Sir Fazle Abed

One of my favorite moments from my last few days in Bangladesh was meeting Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the Founder and Chairman of BRAC. Forty years ago after the liberation war and in the face of a devastating cyclone that killed hundreds of thousands in Bangladesh, Abed – a relatively wealthy professional who had studied in England – founded BRAC, intending it to be solely an immediate relief effort. However, once he began this work, he realized development required a lifelong commitment – and that he would be in it for the long haul. BRAC transformed over time from an…

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non-profit, social change

Good to Great: Why Business Thinking is Not The Answer

Good to Great and the Social Sectors, by Jim Collins, is a wonderful monograph that highlights some important, spot-on thoughts regarding leadership and excellence in the social sector (Thanks to Allison Jones for the book!). Although it is meant to be read alongside the original “Good to Great” book, I read it separately and still gleaned a number of useful insights. Here are a few main thoughts and principles from the monograph:  “We must reject the idea – well-intentioned, but dead wrong – that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become ‘more like a business.’”…

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