Women lawyers commit to justice delivery cause
Women Lawyers Association says it is geared to give legal representation to vulnerable women and girls, notably those who cannot afford legal services in rural areas. “As such, in partnership with the Malawi Human Rights Commission, Clooney Foundation for Justice and other organisations, we have identified key communities for delivery of clinics over the…
By Cathy Maulidi:
Women Lawyers Association (WLA) says it is geared to give legal representation to vulnerable women and girls, notably those who cannot afford legal services in rural areas.
WLA Vice President Matamando Chiweza said this yesterday at a legal clinic aimed at supporting WLA members in conducting legal clinics to reach out to women and girls in rural communities.
Chiweza said most women and girls in rural areas face serious human rights violations, including those of child marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, only to suffer in silence because they cannot afford the services of a lawyer.
“As such, in partnership with the Malawi Human Rights Commission, Clooney Foundation for Justice and other organisations, we have identified key communities for delivery of clinics over the next 18 months.
“We want to reach out to a broader section of women and girls whose human rights were violated. As such, this training seeks to equip female lawyers, in terms of capacity, when it comes to dealing with survivors of gender-based violence because these clients are different from those we usually talk to during the course of our normal business,” Chiweza said.
She said women lawyers have, for some time, been helping women and girls in urban areas and now plan to reach out to more women in rural communities.
“We will go to hard-to-reach areas in different parts of Malawi to ease access to justice for these women and girls. They are fellow women and this makes it easier because they feel comfortable talking to us,” she said.
On her part, the project’s lawyer Atupele Masanjala said many women and girls are facing injustices but do not take the issues to court because they do not have an idea about which steps to take and, in some instances, they lack resources.
“These women and girls need legal representation and we thought it wise to train lawyers in preparation for this move. We have, therefore, trained them in strategic litigation and how they can interview a client who has suffered trauma because a lot of clients we are likely to be meeting will have suffered some trauma. So, we wanted the lawyers to know how to face such clients,” Masanjala said.
Grace Mtawali, a lawyer who works at the Malawi Human Rights Commission, described the training as important.
“This training has helped us sharpen our skills and understanding of relevant regional and international laws related to children’s and women’s rights,” Mtawali said.
The training was held under the theme ‘Understanding International Human Rights Law And Conducting Trauma-informed Interview’.