Women and Law in Southern Africa is implementing a Civil Society Strengthening Project as an initiative supported by the European Union (EU) and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The project is being implemented in a consortium with Plan International and Justice for Children Trust (JCT). The project aims to strengthen civil society’s participation in advocacy and influencing on child rights issues, particularly girls’ rights, through the strengthening of the Child Rights Coalition (CRC), Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC), and the Girls not Brides (GNB) movement in the Matabeleland North, Bulawayo and Masvingo provinces. The coalitions have been engaged at national level as well as through local structures in the three provinces of operation. Further, Junior Assembly participation in advocacy work will also be supported and strengthened by the project. The project has a three year life span, from February 2018 to January 2021.
The project also aims at supporting the formation of new and strengthening existing Junior Assembly structures. Pursuant to that goal, there are activities lined up. In the second quarter training manuals were supposed to be developed. On the 10th to the 11th of May, WLSA participated in the development of the Junior Assembly training manual by contributing to the content of the manual. This was done with the aid of Zimbabwe Youth Council.
Legal aid and support services
WLSA has been offering legal aid in form of help desk in Chiredzi district at Chiredzi civil court and Triangle magistrate court. The help desk is an ongoing activity conducted every week Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. The target groups are vulnerable women, children and men. The main objective of the project is to enhance access to justice through the courts. The following methodologies have been used:
- Offering Legal advice to the vulnerable court users. Many litigants can not afford legal fees hence they are self actors. In most cases,self actors are misinformed hence legal advice will educate litigants of the correct legal position of their case. This will allow them to make a decision as to whether or not they will pursue the case
- Drafting of court papers. These include protection orders, peace orders, application for custody,sharing of property summons, application for maintenance, variation discharge. This is not an exhaustive list. Most self actors donot know how to draft these papers and also the proper english. Triangle is surrounded by farms and most people in these farms are illiterate.
- Referrals. We also refer clients to other stakeholders when we do not have the expertise to help a client. We have often referred clients to Police Public relations office for counselling, Plan International for financial and other social challenges. We also refer to private lawyers, and other organizations.