Women's Rights Strategies

Women’s Access to Justice

Supporting women’s legal advocacy centers: In Tajikistan, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) sponsored the creation of INIS, an independent, local non-governmental organization that operates women’s legal advocacy centers. In Georgia, ABA ROLI supported the Women’s Rights Advocacy Center run by the Center for the Protection of Constitutional Rights. In Uzbekistan, ABA ROLI provided financial and technical assistance to legal aid clinics focusing on gender equality and domestic violence.

Fostering social advocacy: In Russia, ABA ROLI established a Social Advocates Program, which has provided basic legal training for non-lawyer activists on women’s legal rights, focusing primarily on the representation of victims of domestic violence. The program created a group of competent advocates who can provide legal information and effective advocacy for women when services of professional attorneys are either not affordable or not available. ABA ROLI launched a similar program in Turkmenistan, where non-lawyer social advocates located in provinces across the country were trained on domestic violence prevention and victim assistance.

Traveling lawyer and awareness raising programs: In Bangladesh and Russia, ABA ROLI trained traveling lawyers to provide legal counseling to women in rural communities, health clinics and crisis centers in areas where other legal services were not available. In Tajikistan, ABA ROLI promoted gender equality in rural communities through public service announcements and a traveling theater production that uses traditional song, dance and story telling to raise awareness of women’s rights and available legal resources. ABA ROLI also operates a roving legal aid clinic specializing in women’s rights.

Violence against Women

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) multi-province programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have made unprecedented strides against systematic rape and other forms of gender-based violence (GBV) used as weapons of war in the civil conflict affecting the country. From January 2008–February 2011, our legal aid clinics offered pro bono legal and psychological assistance to nearly 3,000 sexual and GBV survivors and helped file 2,401 cases, resulting in 466 trials and 373 convictions. By partnering with local health care providers, ABA ROLI provides holistic services to survivors. In addition to legal aid clinics, ABA ROLI has established a mobile court program enabling judges, prosecutors and magistrates to travel to remote areas, where rape victims have little access to courts. ABA ROLI has also conducted a series of capacity building trainings for lawyers, police, prosecutors, judges and magistrates to promote more effective prosecution and adjudication of GBV cases.

In Georgia, ABA ROLI sponsored a domestic violence coalition which succeeded in advocating for the adoption of Georgia’s first domestic violence legislation and government action plan. ABA ROLI was also involved in the passage of Moldova’s first legislation aimed at protecting women from domestic violence. In 2009, the first-ever domestic violence protection order was issued in Moldova, culminating months’ work by ABA ROLI and its local partners.

In Russia, ABA ROLI’s Legal Aid Skills for Victim’s of Domestic Violence Program trained first responders, such as social workers, psychologists and employees of governmental and non-governmental crisis and social assistance centers. The program offered concrete, practical knowledge on Russian legislation that can be used to protect the rights of victims of domestic violence, as well as information on how to provide effective legal aid and advocacy.

In Uzbekistan, ABA ROLI created a network of non-governmental organizations and legal professionals. Network members trained nearly 3,000 Uzbekistani citizens, law enforcement officials and lawyers on gender equality, domestic violence, family law and international human rights law.

ABA ROLI is working with local partners in China to enhance lawyers’ capacity to protect the rights of domestic violence victims and to improve the justice system’s response. Our efforts have included providing technical support to local pilot initiatives that are implementing the country’s first domestic violence protection orders. ABA ROLI has also offered technical assistance to groups participating in China’s Anti-Domestic Violence Network.

Women in the Legal Profession

Supporting bar associations: The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) supported the establishment of Azerbaijan’s first women’s bar association, which now leads the way in creating solutions to the unique challenges facing female lawyers and provides a forum for women to lobby for their rights. In the Middle East and North Africa, ABA ROLI provided technical assistance to the Arab Women’s Legal Network, a non-governmental regional entity that facilitates the advancement of Arab women in the legal profession. ABA ROLI’s support included capacity building, training and curriculum development. In addition, ABA ROLI has supported the efforts of the Kuwait Bar Association to promote appointment of women to the judiciary.

Career advancement programs: In the Middle East and North Africa, ABA ROLI partnered with the Arab Council for Judicial and Legal Studies to support an online forum on women and the judiciary. The two-week virtual conference attracted about 400 legal professionals. ABA ROLI also partnered with the Arab Women’s Legal Network and Jordan University to sponsor a professional mentoring program for women law students. Furthermore, ABA ROLI supported the development of 24 online courses to enhance judicial understanding of international gender equality principles and local family codes. The courses are offered by judicial institutes in Morocco, Bahrain and Jordan, and are required for judicial trainees in Algeria. In Morocco, ABA ROLI organized training and capacity building activities for more than 500 women legal professionals on the country’s family code and on women’s rights in Islam and relevant international standards. We also developed a database of more than 2,000 Moroccan women legal professionals. In Algeria, ABA ROLI implemented the Women’s Rights Advocacy Training for Young Women Lawyers, focusing on law practice management and advocacy for women’s equality. ABA ROLI has also established training programs aimed at the creation of professional networks for young Bahraini and Egyptian female attorneys. In Kosovo, ABA ROLI supported the Women and Minorities’ Committee in implementing a women’s mentoring program, which provides targeted support for women at critical stages of their careers, encouraging them to become licensed attorneys and continue their legal careers. In addition, ABA ROLI developed a law firm modeling program to help newly licensed Kosovar women advocates establish private practices.