Civil Society Recommendations for a Better Implementation of the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act

The role and practices of law societies in the organisation of pro bono services in Southern Africa and neighbour countries – Comparative study

Challenges of Implementation of the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act 2011 in Zambia

Women’s rights in Zambia: involving all levels of society

Lusaka – On this 8 March, International Women’s Day, Avocats Sans Frontières is focusing on the project it has been running in Zambia for the past year in partnership with the organisation Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). The aim of making women the authors of their own emancipation is central to the activities of both organisations. The first results are very positive. Zambians are faced with many obstacles as they try to exercise their rights. Women in particular are the true victims of this situation, whilst they also suffer cultural prejudices regarding their position in society. Thanks to the ASF and YWCA project, they can benefit from information and awareness-raising sessions, as well as from specific assistance provided by lawyers or counsels in cases of gender-based violence. These initiatives help them become more aware of their rights and to respond when these are abused. Capacity-building activities are implemented with all the relevant parties. ASF believes that change is achieved by involving all levels of society: not just women and actors in the legal system, but also men, traditional community leaders, police services that deal with gender-related violence, public institutions, and so on. “My meeting with the beneficiaries of the project was extremely encouraging,” reports Cathy Lecrenier, ASF Country Director in Zambia, who has returned from a recent visit to the country’s northern province. “The communities involved attested to the positive impact of  the project on awareness of women’s rights and access to justice.”
Mobile clinic in a rural environment © ASF/C. Lecrenier
The figures confirm these positive impressions: at the end of one year, over 1,500 people had received awareness-raising information and more than 700 received legal assistance. “One of the keys to our success has been the use of mobile clinics which enable us to meet the communities directly on the ground, in schools, in markets, and to offer immediate legal assistance,Cathy Lecrenier continues. A crucial element of the project is the opportunity for women to play an active role in their own communities, by becoming ambassadors for gender equality during meetings with local leaders, public presentations concerning gender-based violence, and discussions where they are invited to share their experiences. Helen is a member of the “Butemwa” (meaning “joy”) women’s group. During their meetings she and the other members of the group increase their knowledge of their rights, while also learning the skills to run community banks or small businesses. “I would like to see this group grow, to see how we can move forward as women, how to develop our skills and our knowledge so that we can become more independent and be better placed to help other women in our community. I believe that this more than anything will help us in the fight against gender-based violence,” explains Helen. Against the favourable backdrop of this project, ASF wishes you a good 8 March and continues to work for gender equality, which is the basis of a fairer society.
The project is implemented in two provinces over a period of two years. It benefits from European Union support.
Cover picture: awareness-raising session at the market © ASF/C. Lecrenier
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“If you are convinced about ASF, then yes, make a donation”

Brussels, 21 September 2016 – If access to justice is to be sustainable, the capacity of international actors such as ASF should also be sustainable. In essence that is the message from ASF Executive Director, Francesca Boniotti, on the occasion of the publication of the NGO’s 2015 Annual Report. Question: For those of us who have not had the chance to look through ASF’s 2015 Annual Report, what is the main theme? Francesca Boniotti (F.B.): For me, above all it’s all the energy and expertise which our teams in the field and at our Head Office have invested in the pursuit of a single objective: to improve the living conditions of people by giving them the means to access justice. And then, thanks to our projects and our studies, we have been able to demonstrate in a tangible way the extent to which access to justice is essential for fighting against inequalities, establishing a lasting peace and supporting sustainable development. In this sense, the fact that the justice aspect has been integrated into the Sustainable Development Goals[1] at the end of 2015 reinforces the actions that ASF has been involved in for several years now. Q.: Do you think that the work of ASF in post-conflict countries or countries in transition is becoming more complicated year by year? F.B.: That is a complex question. First and foremost, let’s remember that ASF has always worked in countries which are emerging from major crises and/or generalised violence. We were in Rwanda after the genocide. Now, we have a project in the Central African Republic. What complicates our work is when countries return to a period of political instability, as seen in Burundi, or potentially in DR Congo. Donors such as the EU pay very close attention to what is happening and may decide to postpone the financing of projects because of the situation on the ground. This uncertainty can have a direct impact on our financial resources and, as a result, limit our ability to intervene in favour of people in vulnerable situations who are seeking justice. Q.: Let’s talk about financing. What is the situation for ASF? F.B.: There is a paradox. With the help of British cooperation (UK Aid), ASF has been able to benefit from essential structural funding. For example, this support has enabled us to develop projects in new contexts, such as Tunisia and Myanmar without waiting for calls for proposals initiated by donors. Thanks to this funding, we have been able to improve our analyses of the context, develop innovative projects more suited to people’s needs as well as solid partnerships with national stakeholders. Generally speaking, our responsiveness, our adaptability and our expertise are better than ever. In spite of this, access to funding is becoming increasingly difficult, and this has an impact on our capacity to help people exercise their rights. Q.: Are you launching an appeal for donations? F.B.: Of course. Have a look at our activity report. The figures are all in there, as well as testimonies from the men and women who have been able to exercise their rights, and words from our partners. If you are convinced, then yes, make a donation. Your support will allow our teams to continue with their work. [1] SDG 16 (target 16.3): promote the establishment of peaceful societies, ensure access to justice for all and, at all levels, put in place institutions which are effective, responsible and open to all.
Picture :  ©ASF
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Zambia: Working to make women’s rights a reality

Brussels/Lusaka – On International Women’s Day, Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) presents its new project for Zambia. In this country, like many others, women are particularly vulnerable. In partnership with the Zambian Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), ASF aims to help women to claim and exercise their rights, and promote gender equality.

Many obstacles stand between the population of Zambia and the exercise of their rights: people in general lack knowledge and awareness of their rights, courts are not easily accessible and access to legal advice and support is too costly. The legal system is based on both written and customary law which frequently contradict each other, making some legal regulations incoherent and resulting in widespread corruption.

Women in particular, as well as other vulnerable groups, are the true victims of this situation, whilst they also suffer cultural prejudices regarding their position in society. Customary law is sometimes at loggerheads with the concept of gender equality. Often, even legal professionals lack knowledge of women’s rights. Even though the law has been amended to include far stricter punishment for offenders, women are regularly the target of discrimination on both a legal and social level, as well as gender-based violence.

In collaboration with the YWCA organisation, which has been working in the country for nearly 60 years, we aim to enable women to have better control over their lives and strengthen their rights. This will have positive repercussions on their socio-economic status, but also on that of their families and communities as a whole“, explained Chantal van Cutsem, ASF Strategic Coordinator.

The two organisations will implement a number of initiatives: services to provide women with information regarding their rights and human rights in general; lawyers and legal advisors will also provide support to victims of gender-based violence; the various professionals involved will also be given training and capacity building. These initiatives will in turn provide the information necessary to make legal cases for the incorporation of international legislation guaranteeing women’s right into domestic law and the implementation of national legal aid systems.

Women are not the only people targeted by our project“, points out Godfrey Mupanga, ASF Project Leader in Zambia. “In fact, it is essential to include men as well, the traditional community leaders, police services that deal with gender-based violence, public institutions, and so on. Only by changing mentalities and practices at every level can we make progress“.

The project will be implemented in two provinces in the north of the country over a period of two years. It will benefit from European Union support.

 

Meeting with YWCA and ZGF

Cover photo © Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Photo: Meeting between the ASF, YWCA and Zambian Governance Foundation teams ©ASF

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