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Why Legal Empowerment?

Why do we need legal empowerment?

For millions of people, legal empowerment offers a path towards justice. Watch as we state the case for greater legal empowerment for all people, and a global network to support grassroots justice efforts.

The law is supposed to safeguard the rights of all. But the United Nations estimates that 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law, mostly because they are poor. These communities and individuals often lack the information and the expertise they need to combat injustice. Legal empowerment works from the bottom up to build the knowledge and capacity of communities to act on their own behalf. It’s about leveling the playing field to ensure that people who have been excluded from the law are given a fair chance.

In this essay, Namati CEO Vivek Maru further argues that legal empowerment is crucial for taking forward two of the great human endeavors since World War II: the movement for human rights and the quest for development.

Join the movement by registering for an account with the Global Legal Empowerment Network here.

Legal Empowerment in Action

Witness the stories of communities in three different countries that have felt the impact of legal empowerment.Learn more about Namati’s programs and research and the work of our partners and network members.


Across southeast Asia, indigenous communities often lack formal legal title to their ancestral lands. As a result, traditional holdings can face expropriation and encroachment by business interests or by the state. Law groups on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines have responded by helping indigenous groups use the power of the law to protect the land they rightfully own.Watch their story.

Sierra Leone

When the police came looking for his son, Abu Morgan told the truth: after stealing money from a relative, the boy had fled. Then Abu Morgan found himself locked up in a jail cell, caught up in Sierra Leone’s rickety justice system. Luckily, a community-based paralegal from Timap for Justice, a local legal empowerment group, adopted Abu Morgan’s case. Watch what happened next.


Ukraine’s economic and political transition from Communism over the past two decades has left many people with limited access to public services or information, particularly in rural areas. Decisions that affect people’s lives are taken in private; negotiating the bureaucracy can be a daunting challenge.But in four regions, community law centers funded by the Open Society Foundations are helping ordinary people assert their rights under the law. See the difference these centers are making.

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