Women’s Day “Legal Empowerment” Celebrations in South Punjab
(International Women’s Day, March 8, 2016)
Lahore, March 7, 2016 – Legal Service Centers in south Punjab celebrated International Women’s Day by hosting dynamic “Legal Empowerment” fairs (melas) for women and men in poor and vulnerable communities in Multan, Bahawalpur, and Muzaffargarh today. Participants learned about important legal topics, heard inspiring speeches from local dignitaries, and enjoyed creative performances and activities, such as “street theater,” folk singing, and crafts.
International Women’s Day events are held globally every year in March to acknowledge the accomplishments, contributions, and rights of women around the world. Increasing women’s “legal empowerment” means providing the information and tools they need to seek solutions to law-related problems through mediation as well as formal justice institutions, such as courts.
According to a representative of the European Union Punjab Access to Justice Project (EU-PA2J), which established the Legal Service Centers, “We are proud to help celebrate International Women’s Day by supporting NGO partners to host informative fairs for communities in south Punjab. This year the province has a special reason to celebrate Women’s Day because of the recent passage of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence law, which will help women who are experiencing violence in their homes.”
Since September 2015, the Legal Service Centers have helped almost 1,250 clients and reached more than 7,500 citizens through 250 community legal empowerment events in about 50 Union Councils. The Centers offer free legal information, advice, and representation in civil and criminal cases for citizens who otherwise could not afford to access these services.
Each Legal Service Center has two full-time legal aid lawyers who handle cases, as well as 22 trained Legal Empowerment Officers (LEOs or “paralegals”). The LEOs host small events in Union Councils throughout the districts to give citizens practical information about legal and “administrative justice” issues. They also provide citizens direct assistance with documentation, facilitation to access government offices, and referrals to other local service providers.
In Multan, the Legal Service Center is managed by Encourage the Human Development (EHD). The Center in Bahawalpur is managed by Farmers’ Development Organization (FDO). Social Youth Council of Patriots (SYCOP) manages the Center in Muzaffargarh. For more information, go to www.eu-a2j.com, look on Facebook for “EU Punjab Access to Justice Project,” or contact the managing organizations. The project is funded by the European Union.