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The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) will partner with the University of the South Pacific (USP) to host an exchange program in 2012 for 24 young legal professionals. Employing a legal empowerment approach, the program will focus on enhancing participants’ skills to advocate for and provide legal services to women. While governments in the Pacific recognize the challenges of addressing violence against women, lack of exposure to best practices, a small pool of women’s rights advocates and limited understanding of international legal standards among the advocates has hindered progress in protecting and advancing women’s rights in the region. With support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Professional Fellows Program, the program will work with young lawyers from selected Pacific Island nations to create a stronger, better-educated group of advocates empowered to advance the rights of women, particularly those who have experienced violence.
The program will send two delegations of U.S. fellows to the Pacific and two delegations of Pacific fellows to the United States. From April 8–May 19,2012, the first group of Pacific fellows will be placed in Washington D.C.-based advocacy and legal service civil society organizations (CSOs). In October 2012, another group of Pacific fellows will be placed at women’s rights-related CSOs in the San Francisco area. These two exchanges aim to educate participants on steps they can take in their home countries to effect positive change in their communities and to empower women to demand their rights. This program will enable participants to develop stronger legal protections, provide better legal advice, and assist and spearhead innovative responses to violence against women.
In summer 2012, a group of U.S. fellows will travel to the Pacific to participate in a week-long exchange program whereas another group of U.S.fellows will be in the Pacific in spring 2013, with all participating U.S.organizations sending one representative to one of the two exchanges to the Pacific. The American fellows will be placed at one of USP’s entities, including the School of Law, Community Legal Center and the Professional Diploma in Legal Practice program, where they will have the opportunity to advise and assist students in their work on women’s issues, participate in panel discussions and give guest lectures.
The program will foster long-term linkages between the American and Pacific women’s rights advocates to encourage continued cooperation between counterparts.
To learn more about our work in the Pacific, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.