what moves you?
Lilac, Kenya
2007
I’m the Chairperson of the Student’s Association for Legal Aid and Research, where we give free legal advice to poor members of the public who can’t afford to pay for legal services. We advise them on matters related to the community, matrimony, succession, land, labor, and women’s rights, and we provide them with legal assistance.

People come to us because they don’t know the law. We outreach by advertising with posters and radio, and working with clinics in slum areas. We have also begun to collaborate with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

The challenge is not to draft laws that promote women’s rights, but how to encourage people’s acceptance of these laws. The majority of Members of Parliament are men, and they often topple over any law that favors women. Recently, a bill that presented very harsh sentences for sexual offenses was watered down, as the Members of Parliament were fearful that they would suffer the consequences if it were to go forward.

Women’s groups in Kenya are very strong, so if we want a law, we will go out and get it, whether people like it or not. But we must educate men to understand that women’s empowerment will benefit everyone.

Third year Law student, University of Nairobi
Member, Global Student Leadership program, Manhattanville College
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