Implications of community-based legal aid regulation on women’s land rights

Implications of community-based legal aid regulation on women’s land rights

Improving women’s ability to securely access land is recognised as an effective means to increase gender equality and advance other key social and economic development goals. Despite progressive laws in many African countries, gender disparities commonly persist in women’s access and ownership of land.

Although legal empowerment of women can help to strengthen their claims to land, developing country governments commonly lack the capacity to offer legal services. Civil society is increasingly stepping in to fill the wide gap in legal service provision, with the aim of empowering marginalised groups and individuals to exercise their legal rights. Although legal aid has wide application, this brief looks on the consequences of regulating services provided at the community level to support women’s land rights, with a special focus on Tanzania.

The authors recommend areas for further investigation to inform future legal aid policy and regulations in Tanzania and beyond:

  • evaluate the implications for geographic coverage and program quality by defining at least two distinct tiers of paralegals to provide legal services at different levels of decentralisation

  • identify the appropriate educational criterion for each tier of paralegal that will identify individuals with the facility to access training materials and complete reporting requirements

  • undertake additional research to establish distinct, paralegal training curricula that consider topic breadth versus relevance according to the services provided in each tier. Curricula for community paralegals should be based on analysis of the cost-effectiveness of initial training investments versus regular periodic training

  • for additional insight on modalities to reduce paralegal attrition, conduct analysis on the cost effectiveness of paralegal compensation to assess the implications on programme quality and sustainability

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