Widows – empowered with knowledge and certified as Paralegals – can be the BEST advocates for themselves! Paralegal programs are beneficial to the progression of widows’ land, inheritance, marital and human rights. These programs inform widows, and in turn the community at large, about their rights under the law, how to seek justice, and gain an understanding of any government benefits and social protections they may be entitled to.
The Global Fund for Widowsis building Widows’ Savings and Loan Associations, affectionately known as WISALAs, or community banks for widows in Kenya. With our implementing partner, Come Together Widows and Orphans, we are organizing widows in groups of 25, and helping them capitalize a small bank! Having partnered with FIDA – Federation of International Women’s Lawyers – we are training widows to become versed in their rights under the law. Armed with this knowledge, and certified as a community paralegal, widows are charged with disseminatingthis information to the community, including their friends, siblings, daughters, men, and importantly community leaders such as the local chiefs.
Paralegal certification programs can have profound effects on widows’ rights advocacy. Armed with knowledge, widows are empowered to protect themselves and other community members against discriminatory practices, Economic Violence, disinheritance, and even physical violence manifested in Harmful Traditional Practices.
In this program women should develop skills required to advise others though legal recourse. The paralegal program does not certify participants to become lawyers. Rather it helps them to advance their capabilities to protect and preserve their rights. Paralegal training programs can include programming on mediation, organization, and advocacy. By learning and developing these tools, widows are able to work towards creating a more equitable society.
The goal of the program is to create easier access to the legal system for a bigger group of people. In some places the closest lawyer, law firm, or judge might be several hours away. often times This makes it hard for people in rural communities to acquire legal aide. Through this program, widows will have the opportunity to learn more about the justice system with the aim not only to protect and empower their community and surrounding groups but also themselves. (Sarah Smith)