project by BarefootLaw sought to study innovative approaches, practices,
methods, and services implemented in communities to expand and increase access
APPROACHES AND INNOVATIONS IN THE PROVISION OF LEGAL SERVICES IN UGANDA, KENYA AND MALAWI
Since 2022, BarefootLaw has called
on community justice innovators to nominate the work they do in improving processes
to access justice. Their Innovation areas range from cost reductions,
procedures or processes, access to knowledge, improvements in attitudes and
perceptions, as well as innovations
towards solving physical barrier challenges. Three most of the most impactful
innovations, chosen by the public, are each supported with $1000 to amplify
In August this year2023, BarefootLaw put out a call to the Malawian public inviting the nomination of individuals and organisations who are using their innovators to further the cause of access to justice for recognition for the work they are doing. We received over thirty applications, and after a thorough vetting process, four (4) organisations were shortlisted. We then put it to a vote for all Malawians. BarefootLaw then conducted a voting exercise on Microsoft Forms, Facebook polls and SMS.
The aim of the workshop was to award the winners from this voting exercise and to provide all the innovators with an opportunity to showcase the work they are doing at the grassroots. The innovators were:
- Hub 22 is a hub based in semi-urban area 22, Lilongwe, in the capital of Malawi. It was founded by Nancy Magwaya, a woman who was passionate about empowering victims of sexual and gender-based violence. As the group grew, they began to focus on other aspects that affect women, such as health and wellbeing, land ownership, income-generating, They do their work by working with different authorities such as social welfare officers, officers who handle gender issues, chiefs and local leaders, the police, etc. These collaborations with the authorities listed above help Hub 22 provide immediate assistance to victims of abuse by referring their cases to the authorities and helping them to follow up.
Chikulamayembe Women Forum
Chikulamayembe Women Forum was founded in 2007 as a Community Based Organisation in Rumphi, Malawi. It is now registered as a local Non Government Organisation. They mainly focus on women and girls rights, food security and agriculture, health, education, governance, economic empowerment, and access to justice, that is for victims of Gender-Based Violence. Despite the fact that women do 70-80% of agriculture and farming, they are not allowed to own land and can only live on their father’s and husband’s land due to cultural and patriarchal beliefs. Chikulamayembe, with the help of chiefs in the area, runs campaigns to educate, inform and empower women on their rights.
Since its inception in 2007, Chikulamayembe Women Forum has successfully provided safe spaces for victims of Gender-Based violence, lobbied with chiefs to allow women to own and inherit land, rescued girls from child marriages among others.
- Timtendere Foundation is an organisation that works to empower and educate young people living on the streets in Blantyre. They also aim to equip them with different skills through music, dance, and vocational skills. They do their work by creating simplified legal content, which is used to educate the children on their rights about the different topics that affect them. In addition, they provide shelter for homeless people.
Youth Response for Social Change
Youth Response for Social Change (YRSC) is an organisation located in Machinga district, bordering Mozambique. Established in 2010, the organisation targets women, girls, and youth. The focus of the organisation is to end child marriages under a project called “Social Transformation for ending child marriages in Machinga”. YRSC also deals in areas of good governance, supporting victims of Gender Based Violence, promoting sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and improving the socio-economic status of youth through capacity building, awareness and adopting innovative ideas and strategic communication.
YRSC does its work by promoting a mindset change to transform cultural attitudes among gatekeepers, parents, traditional leaders and societal members in order to eliminate norms that promote child marriages. A youth hub comprised of 200 youth, 150 females and 50 males, was therefore established to create a safe space where access to justice and child marriage issues are discussed. They aim at using innovative approaches and beneficiary engagement, resulting in visible impact that makes sure every woman, girl and youth feels safe, accounted for and empowered.
- The Dispute Resolution Hub ( The DR Hub)– which advocates for access to justice via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, such as Mediation, Arbitration, Negotiation, Conciliation, and any other out-of-court process. Their work solves two key issues: i) the delayed process in attaining resolution or justice and ii) the high costs associated with litigation or physical dispute resolution avenues. DR Hub accomplishes this via providing online Mediation and Arbitration sessions. This increases access to justice as the disputants can hold online meetings to deliberate and work towards solving their disputes, thus saving time for travel and associated expenses or costs.
- Sairo Law Global – which conducts Legal education through the YouTube Channel called ” Sairo Law Global”. They divide an area of law into topics and several episodes of short broadcasts where the legal concepts are explained and made easy for the public. They also invite experts on set for every specific area of Law. Based on the feedback collected, Sairo Law Global answers the public’s questions at the end of each ten-part series.The main issue they need to address is ignorance of the Law and processes in addressing legal Issues.
- Alternative Justice System Cosmopolitan – which gives the council of elders and religious leaders a bigger role in the justice system and is aimed at providing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including traditional approaches, as long as they do not contravene the Constitution.
- Nyando Social Justice Centre– Nyando Social Justice Centre started as a table-banking initiative by women in Nyando Sub-county to support their economic empowerment. Through this, they realised that many of the women were struggling with other forms of violence towards them, hence the need for a justice centre.
- Muslim Education and Welfare Association (MEWA)- People who use drugs often face barriers In accessing services (most of which they are entitled to). As a paralegal and social worker, Diana at MEWA educates people who use drugs (PWUDs) on their health and human rights through “Know Your Rights” and “Legal Literacy” sessions, how to navigate the criminal justice system and links them to psychosocial support, legal aid clinics, socioeconomic empowerment opportunities, and access to civil documents.
- Kisumu Mediation Centre– a network of ninety-eight (98) trained mediators who are located outside Kisumu Law Courts. Most of their mediators are based in Kisumu City and its environs and are subscribed to a WhatsApp group for easy and fast communication.