Building a movement for legal empowerment

More than five billion people around the world are denied meaningful access to justice. They are driven from their land, denied basic services, and intimidated by violence. Namati and members of the Global Legal Empowerment Network will advance justice by equipping people to understand, use, and shape the laws that affect them.

Legal empowerment efforts are often carried out by community paralegals, who go by many names, including barefoot lawyers or community legal workers. They are trained in law and policy and in skills like mediation, organizing, and advocacy. They help people to seek concrete solutions to instances of injustice, engaging formal and traditional institutions alike.

Community paralegals are essential to closing the global justice gap. They have proven that they can help communities to access justice, even when systems are broken. With the law on their side, people are able to thrive, seek peaceful solutions, protect the lands and resources they depend on, and hold their governments to account.

The Global Legal Empowerment Network will strengthen and connect community paralegals, and the organizations that deploy them, around the world. We will build spaces for them to meet and collaborate online and in-person. We will host events and activities that help them learn from each other. We will maintain a library of useful resources. We will collectively advocate to secure support and sustainable funding for the field.

Namati will also work in close partnership with network members to take on three urgent issues - health justice, land and environmental justice, and citizenship justice - in six countries: Kenya, India, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and the United States.

Together with the communities we serve, we will strive to translate the lessons from our grassroots experience into positive, large-scale changes to laws and systems. We will share everything we learn from our grassroots work with our wider community.

By unlocking the potential of community paralegals who provide essential legal support to communities, we will help to make justice a reality for the billions who are being left behind.

Expected impact

Namati, the members of our network, and the communities we serve aim to achieve transformative impact in six countries, while growing the Global Legal Empowerment Network into a powerful movement for justice.

In Sierra Leone, by supporting communities in protecting their customary land rights, we will significantly reduce environmental and social harm from mining, agricultural, or development projects. We will change policy nationwide so that people who depend on the land have a meaningful voice in what happens to it. In Kenya, where paralegals are helping communities to secure IDs, we will work to end discrimination in the administration of identity documents. We will also bring a historic community land law to life by helping communities to secure over a million hectares of land and persuading county governments to implement the law. In Mozambique, where paralegals are helping people to understand health policy and to take action to address failures to comply, we will significantly reduce violations and democratize health governance nationwide though the empowerment of village health committees. In India, we will empower communities to use the law to find remedies when industrial projects violate environmental regulations, as well as to demand a more effective and participatory regulatory framework. In Myanmar, community paralegals support smallholder farmers to navigate complex administrative processes for regaining access to land that was seized during military rule. There, we will strive to replace a top-down, repressive system of land governance with one that respects the experience and voice of those who depend directly on the land.

Meanwhile, the Global Legal Empowerment Network will engage thousands of members in activities that advance the field of legal empowerment, including collaborative learning, programming, research, community-building, and advocacy. We will support hundreds of grassroots organizations with meaningfully deepening the impact, sustainability, or quality of their legal empowerment work. We will transform the policy environment for legal empowerment. In particular, we will work to increase financing and protection for justice defenders at national, regional and global levels.



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Staff / Technical expertise
Our staff will offer guidance and advice to network members and partners, drawing from their expertise across a range of thematic and geographic areas.
Financing (in USD)
In-kind contribution
We will maintain a free online platform and resource library to help network members connect and collaborate virtually. Other free opportunities for practitioners will include learning exchanges, leadership courses, e-learning courses, webinars, and more.
Basic information
Start: 15 September, 2019
Completion: 31 December, 2025
Namati (Non-governmental organization (NGO))
Namati convenes the Global Legal Empowerment Network, a growing community of over 2000 non-governmental organizations, all dedicated to grassroots justice. New members are joining every day. For an updated list of members, visit https://namati.org/network/organizations/.
Geographical coverage
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficiaries
Our activities will not only strengthen member NGOs making use of legal empowerment methods, but also the diverse communities that these organizations serve.
Contact information
Abigail Moy, Director, Global Legal Empowerment Network, abigailmoy@namati.org, 202-888-1088
Washington DC, 20010
United Nations