The International Development Law Organization (“IDLO“) makes legal empowerment central to its work. Its ‘bottom up’ approach aims to equip people with the knowledge, confidence and skills they need to realize their rights.
Legal Empowerment Strengthens Rights for Girls and Young Women
From 2016-2018 IDLO worked with girls and young women in Tanzania and Uganada to reduce the their rate of HIV infection. IDLO’s legal empowerment approach leveraged the skills and power of paralegals, village health committees and other community organizations to create a powerful combined force. Have a look at IDLO’s recent Evaluation Brief on some of its HIV related work in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 200,000 girls and young women are infected every year.
Legal Empowerment Includes Whole Communities for Maximum Impact
In Tanzania and Uganda, paralegals worked with girls and young women, as well as with the broader community, to strengthen their awareness of aids related services. Along with village health committees they trained them to access services. Village health committees the went the extra mile to support follow up to see that the right services had been sought and provided. Community based organizations joined in the effort, also providing shelter to survivors of gender based violence.
One strongly positive result – the police fast-tracked cases of gender based violence. Faster police work cut down the risks of case withdrawal and dismissal that come with slow prosecution.
Monitoring and Evaluation is a Key to Sustainable Results
The Evaluation Brief will also give you a quite detailed insight into how IDLO does its project evaluation. You will see the importance of community ownership of the project and of alignment with the related policies and initiatives of the state and others actors. Ongoing monitoring and final independent evaluation are vital too.
The final evaluation noted that future initiatives should offer more involvement to elders and boys, that there could be more time spent on sharing and disseminating training and on deepening contacts with others doing related work in the community.
As is often the case, the question of sustainability is not yet fully resolved. Some of the programmes paralegals are leaving this work, looking for more remunerative activities support themselves and their families.