Women's Access to Justice Phase II Inception
Last week ARDD-Legal Aid’s Women’s Access to Justice (WAJ) Team travelled to Beirut, Lebanon for the inception of Phase II of the project. The Women’s Access to Justice is a regional 3 year project implemented in Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen and Egypt. In Jordan the project is implemented by ARDD-Legal Aid in partnership with Oxfam GB in the target areas of Zarqa and Northwest Amman.
Phase I of the project was implemented from April 2011- March 2014 with great success and phase II of the project looks to build upon this during the next three years.
In Lebanon, the Women’s Access to Justice teams met to discuss how WAJ II can learn from the implementation of WAJ I and the contexts of the different countries. All participants shared the political and socio-economic changes that have occurred between phase I and phase II of the project in their respective countries and how all teams can adapt to these changes.
Following this, the teams had the opportunity to talk about the lessons that they learned during phase I and how they believed that this can help the other partners as everyone moves to implementing the second phase.
The regional partners that participated and gave input throughout the inception included: members from Egypt’s Arab Women’s Legal Centres; Yemen’s Yemeni Women Union; Lebanon’s LECROVAW and Justice without Frontiers; Jordan’s ARDD-Legal Aid; members for Oxfam country offices and gender hub; and the Embassy of Finland.
The first phase of the Women’s Access to Justice program began in 2011 as women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) began to be more visibly linked to the changes in the region that started with the Arab uprisings of 2011. The unstable political environment and unsteady transition however have toned down the optimism among women’s rights advocates. Among many today there is a realisation that fostering women’s rights in a region of weak institutions, male-dominated social and cultural sphere, and limited space for women’s participation, is a long-term process requiring action at multiple levels.
The key problem this project will address is the limited and inequitable access of poor and vulnerable women to justice. The underlying factors are described in more detail below.
1) Limited capacities of women to claim their rights due to limited ability to make well informed decisions related to one’s rights and limited affordability of legal services and litigation for women.
2) Women are socially deterred from accessing the judicial system.
3) Formal and informal justice systems are perceived as gender biased/ discriminating against women.
4) Limited impact of civil society organization's advocacy on women’s rights and access to justice.
ARDD-Legal Aid is excited to begin implementation of Women’s Access to Justice Phase II by building on the information that was shared by various partners during the inception. With the success of Phase I of WAJ, WAJ II will continue to work to provide women in the MENA region with the tools to reduce vulnerability and suffering by securing just outcomes and verdicts.