[Featured Resource] Identity Documents, Welfare Enhancement, and Group Empowerment in the Global South

This week’s featured resource is Identity Documents, Welfare Enhancement, and Group Empowerment in the Global South from the Journal of Development Studies.

This featured resource discusses how enjoying the rights in one’s home country often begins with the birth registration of a child, and who undocumented people are.

Having a birth certificate is a stepping stone to acquiring an array of rights and benefits, including other documents necessary to navigate in and outside of one’s home country. Despite a birth certificate’s importance, many children in the developing world never obtain one. Whether a person does so or not often depends on ethnicity, race, gender, and age. With the rights of individuals as well as groups in mind, this article examines some of the crucial causes and consequences of not acquiring this key document. It concludes that legal empowerment matters. It also underscores what governments can do, if political will exists, to facilitate the process of birth registration and certification among citizens.

You can access this resource in our library at the following link:

As always, please let us know your thoughts on this resource by commenting below.

The Featured Resource is a short profile of a key resource found in the resource library of the Global Legal Empowerment Network. These resources can be older or brand new, but they all touch on important themes within legal empowerment. If you have a resource you would like to profile with the network, upload it directly at this link or email it to community@namati.org


Thanks for sharing this resource @madelinegunderson! Love this line from the abstract: “It concludes that legal empowerment matters.”

Those working on documentation and identity in Kenya might like to check it out as the paper cites several challenges people face with documentation in the country - and the use of community paralegals as a response! @Zahra @AndrewOchola @Samba @AhmedMohamed @SumaiyahOmar

The resource cites many examples from other countries & regions too!


It is good to appreciate what we have i. Canada. We must help the people in other countries to solve such problems. Having ID documents is a basic right.

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congratulation for the global contribution for helping millions to access the law,and put the law into actions


in the case of my country sierra Leone,people do not have time for birth certificate,they would be interested only if they are traveling out of country,so it most be a legal education around for such attitude,so that we can talk about change into a new society


There are certainly many barriers in accessing IDs - thanks for sharing some of what you’ve seen in Sierra Leone, @Krmohmbangalie!

Not too long ago, I read that Sierra Leone was planning to issue ID cards to the 5.2 million people in the civil registration database.

Has the issuance of ID cards happened? Is everyone able to access the cards equally, or are some locations or some communities better able to acquire an ID card compared to others? Do you think it will facilitate access to service, or will lack of ID cards mean some people now struggle to get health or education or other services?

I also saw a brief update that a new scheme will allow people to open a bank account with just a fingerprint if their biometrics are already in the NCRA database. Here there was no mention of ID cards at all!

I’d love to hear more about these initiatives and how you think they will impact people - in positive or negative ways - in Sierra Leone!

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Hello everyone, Having an ID document is so basic service that the people in the Western countries take for granted. I think there must be more information in Canada and USA about the lack of legal services for the citizens in many parts of the world. I think there are many people who would like to help in different way.

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