Access to Justice
KIT Gender’s work on access to justice challenges the conventional approach that sees justice as being bounded by law and legal institutions. It expands the scope to explore how gender and other social relations such as class, ethnicity, race, caste affect a person’s access to and treatment by those institutions in charge of delivering justice and ensuring people’s rights. It understands justice as an outcome by exploring the different pathways for example women have to take in accessing justice, the various obstacles they face in claiming their rights as well as the strategies they use often with the help of relevant actors, such as NGOs, academic institutions, paralegals and others to actually achieve justice.
An inclusive approach
KIT has worked on access to justice since 2008 when it organised a Consultation Meeting on “Access to Justice for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa”, held in Johannesburg in collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand. The main findings of this work has served as the base for the development of the KIT Gender programme. One such finding is that the justice system, particularly in countries with plural legal systems, is marked by a dichotomy between formal and customary or informal systems. The latter although often considered backward and discriminatory is nevertheless where most women go to settle disputes regarding land and other resources, and, family matters.
Based on the above in 2011 KIT is working with key national non- governmental and research organisations in Uganda exploring gender and access to justice with regard to land rights in a country where the formal system of justice and the land administration often conflict with the customary laws and justice system. KIT has developed an analytical framework on access to justice named “the chain of justice” informed by our gender- and rights-based approach.
KIT’s work and approach on access to justice is also being used in work done with a human rights organisation in Cambodia which aims at engaging in action-learning process looking at gender and land rights in the country.
Moreover, KIT also uses its approach and analytical framework in the training given to the Dutch police members and the Marachaussee who will represent The Netherlands in various UN peace keeping missions in different conflict and post conflict countries. This approach allows the security officers to not only contextualise justice and understand it from a gender perspective in the security sector but also to perceive themselves as agents not merely of security and law enforcement but moreover of justice.
Download our recent publication about access to justice in Uganda (November 2014): Pathways of Justice and Equity in Land Administration and Dispute Resolution in Uganda