Legally Empowering Women in Gulu using Technology and Innovation

Gulu, UGANDA-

Access to legal assistance, information and guidance continues to be a major challenge to women in Uganda embroiled in legal dilemma ranging from land disputes, inheritance disputes, domestic disputes and numerous other socio-legal concerns. It is against this background that not-for-profit organizations BarefootLaw and Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) are launching a project; Legal Empowerment of Women Using Technology and Innovation (LEWUTI).

The project will mobilize and make use of digital solutions and mediation to overcome barriers of geography, knowledge and cost to deliver access to justice to women. Supported by the Belgian Development Agency, Enabel- Wehubit, LEWUTI was launched on 13th June at the Global Friendship Hotel in Gulu.

“LEWUTI targets women primarily, as they face structural discrimination in access to basic rights, in particular, rights related to ownership and use of land,” Michael Kwizera, the Project Coordinator and Director of Strategy at BarefootLaw said.

The implementation will take place in the sub-counties; Paico, Awac, Bungatiira and Lalogi, over the period of two years.

“Most women here sink in their misery because they cannot afford to access legal guidance. It is unheard of to find lawyers doing anything for free therefore I am extremely excited to learn of this project and it’s benefits for our people,” Goretti Okech, the Community Development officer of Gulu District, says.

LEWUTI provides access to sufficient and tailored knowledge about their rights; access to responsive spaces to ascertain their rights and reduces the impact of structural discrimination, with the intention of ensuring that women are specifically included in the process of securing the right to access to justice.

Kwizera adds that the project’s key assumption is that once equipped with the above, women shall be empowered to be more pro-actively engaged in legal/justice matters that affect them. “The use of digital solutions not only overcomes the geographical barriers in hard-to-reach areas, it also solves language barriers and allows women to access information in a confidential space.”

Women will access tailored first line legal support and information through SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platforms and outreaches for community sensitization.

Additionally, the project will strengthen the standards of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services through capacity building for Community-Based Mediators. “Community-based mediation is the first step in the justice journey for women as noted above due to barriers of distance to formal courts as well as financial inaccessibility. As a dispute resolution method, mediation as practiced within the communities of Acholi sub regions is an avenue for sustainable and organic access to justice, “ Irene Anying, the Program Coordinator ASF, said.

The event attracted the attendance of Representatives from Local Government and Women’s groups. ASF awarded certificates to the participants in the ADR training.

 

Background Information

BareFoot Law

Started in 2012 and registered as a non-Governmental Organization in 2013, with a mission to demystify the law through simple, easily understood language. BarefootLaw seeks to deliver legal information and support persons through technology and traditional means of legal aid WWW.BAREFOOTLAW.ORG

Avocats Sans Frontières

Established in 1992, Avocats Sans Frontières is an international NGO, whose mission is to help bring about a fair and just society, in which the law serves vulnerable groups and communities. Avocats Sans Frontières has permanent missions in Burundi, Morocco, Uganda, the Central African Republic, DR Congo, Chad, and Tunisia. It also carries out transnational projects on international criminal justice, the protection of human rights defenders, and access to economic and social rights, in close collaboration with lawyers and civil society. WWW.ASF.BE

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