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Launched in 2021 and funded by the U.S. State Department Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), the Legal Reform Fund (LRF) program addresses barriers to women's full and effective participation in economic life. LRF approaches women's economic empowerment as an intersectional challenge, closely tied to other impediments to gender equality. Confronting the root causes of inequality requires closing gaps in national legal frameworks and affecting policy/regulatory reforms, as well as supporting full implementation of de jure systems to translate into de facto lived experiences for women worldwide. 

The program focuses on five critical thematic areas that draw from and build upon research by the World Bank Institute; World Economic Forum; and other academic, non-governmental, and inter-governmental organizations, as well as years of ABA ROLI learning and programming. 

These areas are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and include:

  • Access to Institutions
  • Building Credit
  • Removing Barriers to Employment
  • Acquiring, Owning, and Managing Property
  • Ability to Travel Freely

The LRF program has two primary objectives, the completion of Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) assessments for each program country which includes legal research as well as stakeholder interviews, and secondly, the development and execution of technical assistance based on assessment findings. LRF is being implemented in Mexico, Guatemala, Timor-Leste, and Indonesia and is engaging a variety of stakeholders, including, but not limited to, government actors, civil society organizations, NGOs and INGOs, finance sector actors, and law firms. Country projects may focus on one or more of the five thematic areas, and are further supported by global "Communities of Practice" that include pro bono partners with specific issue expertise.

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