African Access to Justice (AA2J) Women’s Network Launch

June 23 and 24, 2021

Awards Ceremony (4:30PM CEST, Wednesday June 23rd). Click HERE to Join the Awards Ceremony.

Building a Woman Legal Defender’s Global Movement/Networking Event (4PM CEST, Thursday June 24th): Click HERE to Join the Networking Event.

Across Africa, the cries for justice grow increasingly louder. And on the justice frontlines in every country are the legal defenders – working tirelessly to defend the poor, the marginalized, the victimized. As part of its newly established transnational effort to support women in justice, IBJ is honored to announce the ten outstanding African women legal defenders chosen to serve as the founding members of the African Access  to Justice (AA2J) Women’s Network. 

The Problem: Facing the brunt of so many injustices the world over, are women. And Africa is no exception. Over the last fifteen years, the number of women imprisoned across Africa grew by nearly 25%. These women are often too poor to afford a lawyer and vulnerable to systematic gender-based violence, only amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. OHCHR reports that:

“Women detainees face degrading treatment during arrest, interrogation and in custody, including being stripped; invasive body searches; [and] rape and threats of rape.”

The IBJ Solution: Although the problem is widespread and dire, it is also solvable. The solution is simple: early access to competent legal representation. Defenders help prevent the accused from torture and prolonged periods of detention. Access to justice is the answer. 

The African Access to Justice Women’s Network

IBJ has established the African Access to Justice (AA2J) Women’s Network to directly support African women lawyers to defend and provide due process under the law to incarcerated women and girls in ten countries in Africa: Burundi, DRC, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia. Each Fellow will launch and build a local country Network chapter linked to the broader AA2J pan-African community of women legal defenders. This AA2J initiative also builds leadership opportunities for African women lawyers in places where bar associations remain overwhelmingly male-dominated.

10 African Countries, 100 Women Legal Defenders

700 Accused Women + Girls Represented

Who We Are: Founded in 2000, IBJ is a nonprofit organization and international justice movement that provides vulnerable accused individuals early access to a lawyer in order to prevent investigative torture and ensure due process rights. In addition to years of work in Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, IBJ has fostered justice defenders in Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda. As a global justice pioneer, IBJ has trained a community of 31,000 legal defenders across the world who have provided legal assistance to 404,000 accused. Our online training materials have been accessed 20+ million times in over 100 countries, and we have reached 36+ million people through rights awareness campaigns. IBJ collaborates with governments and civil society to build systematic access to justice and rule of law and helping to prevent human rights violations before they occur. Access to justice saves lives and contributes to a fairer, more just world. 

The African Access to Justice Women’s Network is generously supported by the Swedish Postcode Foundation.

Heading Photo by Anders Wallace