LEGAL EMPOWERMENT THROUGH LEGAL AID. EXAMINING HOW LEGAL AID PROMOTES LEGAL EMPOWERMENT FOR VULNERABLE WOMEN IN UGANDA

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUMID International Master programme in applied International Development and Management

Abstract: The paper explored current approaches to legal aid and weather they effectively incorporate legal empowerment strategies for vulnerable women in Uganda. The conception and application of legal empowerment of the poor was analyzed from a capabilities perspective informed by “development as freedom” focusing on women. The study presented an investigation on how one can bring together the theoretical insights of legal empowerment with a study of current practices and perceptions of legal aid and legal empowerment in advancing women’s access to justice. By doing so it contributed to the broader discussion on the role of law and development in empowering disadvantaged and vulnerable people, as well as expanding their freedoms, as the link between legal empowerment and access to justice remains significantly unexplored within the capabilities approach. In particular the paper assessed legal aid from the perspective of rights awareness and rights enablement, key components of legal empowerment. Through the capabilities approach it uncovered that legal aid service provisioning plays a significant role in promoting legal empowerment and enhancing women’s capabilities to access justice. However at times they are treating symptoms in the legal sphere with limited reflection on how enhanced capabilities in access justice can create tradeoffs in other spheres.

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