What drives you to continue doing justice work despite the challenges?

What drives you? What moment in your life inspired to do justice work? What keeps you motivated to do legal empowerment work despite the challenges? :fist:t5:

We would love to hear your stories. Please share in comments below :thought_balloon:

To celebrate the last 10 years of this Network (and the upcoming 10!), some Network members answered these questions earlier. I’m sharing some excerpts from those conversations here:

@Wura Wuraoluwa Ayodele, Women Safe House Sustenance Initiative (Nigeria)

"So I decided – this came from a place of pain, a place of tears, a place of deep depression – I was going to do something to fight for the rights of women. I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know much. I didn’t have too many resources at my disposal. But I decided I was going to do something about it. I went on to study law. All through my years in school, training to become a lawyer, this was my focus – to give women a voice. But later on I discovered it wasn’t to give women a voice, because women already have a voice. It was to amplify the voices of women that were being silenced.”

@pablovitale Pablo Vitale, ACIJ - Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (Argentina)

“If I go to a meeting in the slum, I always find someone who was a student or did a workshop with me. People who were children when I started working there and now have children of their own. You see the development of the neighborhood, and of the people – how they created their own tools and could develop their own power and that’s really motivating.”

@RuthKaima Ruth Kaima, CHREAA - Center for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (Malawi)

“The work I was doing as a paralegal in the communities provoked my attention. There was a need to venture to ensure that the process must be empowering, because we discovered that maybe telling them what the law is wasn’t enough. A lot of structural change had to happen, and so much work was needed for the communities to come to a place where they can make demands of the government and the system.”

@VivianaPatal Viviana Patal, Women’s Justice Initiative (Guatemala)

“So my legal education became a tool that allowed me to use the knowledge that I was sharing with women. This is what I focus my work towards because there is a bigger result where they say, “Now I know. I can engage with the justice system. I’m going to use the legal tools that they give me without feeling more guilty than I already feel.” When I accompany them in the western justice system they feel safe because they go with someone who is just like them, that has also experienced and suffered discrimination, exclusion, and violence, right? So they feel safe to be able to engage with the system.”

@RafahAnabtawi Rafah Anabtawi, Kayan Feminist Organization (Haifa)

Liberation from the occupation is very important. But how can we as women fight for our critical rights if we can’t hold our heads up and speak out loudly in our own homes and our own society? It’s very challenging: this is why my feminism is holistic in a way that addresses the root causes of the problem. I don’t have a lot of faith in the system – like the police and governmental offices – and its willingness to support me as a person. So I have to invest more and more in the grassroots to build a sustainable feminist movement that aims to strengthen and empower women and society as a whole to fight for women, and for the Palestinian minority.”

@PrabhakarBagchand Prabhakar Bagchand, Lawyers National Campaign for the Elimination of Caste Discrimination (Nepal)

“In 2015, when my daughter was nine years old, she came to me with a textbook from her social studies class that required her to answer a question: what caste do you belong to? The options included lower caste and higher caste. She told me that her textbook has this insulting and derogatory question – and that it hurt. I decided to take up the case, and I filed a public interest litigation in the court. It turned out this was a case lost in the court, but won in the eyes of the people. That was my victory, the victory of my land – Nepal, and the victory of my daughter.”

@Alejandra Ancheita Alejandra Ancheita, ProDESC (Mexico)

"Our work is about the possibility of building hope. It doesn’t matter if you are winning or losing the case. What it really matters is the process that is teaching us as lawyers and teaching communities that when we work collectively, we can find answers.

Check out the longer pieces on our Twitter and Facebook.

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@Timothy Timi Ikidi, Justice and Empowerment initiative Portharcourt Nigeria I had lived in the slum as a child before migrating to the Government Reserved Area so when I became a Community Paralegal it was a big opportunity to serve The Urban poor and I gladly have my heart t

my job as a human rights advocate. And one day the government came with their bulldozer and started destroying people’s homes and their way of life. No notice and no compensation but a brutal forced eviction, I couldn’t standing it as the tears flowed down my face I realized this injustice has to be corrected and I took all the evidence and we went to court to seek for justice and today our case has gone far and the perpetrators are on the run living us with the government lawyers to prove our case. I see justice close at hand and it makes me happy cuz no one has a right to oppress others b cause they are poor for we all have rights and should have freedom to be happy in life

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Thank you for sharing @Timotistic12 !

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Good morning Aimee, ur welcome and hope to be online today for the program, have a lovely day

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Wonderful to hear your story @Timotistic12 - what a powerful story about your journey into fighting for justice. Thanks for your hard work.

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Thank you everyone for sharing.

I was an intern at a magistrate court and discovered that accused persons were not provided with defense attorneys, while the state had well trained attorneys who were very aggressive to the point of bullying and intimidation.

The accused were bulldozed throughout the trial, they didn’t understand what was going on or even have the necessary capabilities to defend themselves. This situation is what drove me to legal empowerment and fighting for people’s rights. By that time I only had my law degree with no experience of running a nonprofit but I decided I can learn and help those that can’t help themselves.

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Thank you for sharing, @MissZinga – it’s so inspiring to hear your story. In so many contexts, the accused lack access to legal representation and understanding of their rights. Defense lawyers are so often overburdened. Your work is so important!

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