Tam O'Neill

Policy and Research Papers

The Politics of Legal Empowerment: Legal Mobilisation Strategies and Implications for Development

Legal empowerment occurs when poor or marginalised people use the law, legal systems and justice mechanisms to improve or transform their social, political or economic situations. While understanding of legal empowerment has been confined to a relatively small group of legal experts, the relevance of legal activism to development is becoming clearer. This overview summarises recent evidence on legal empowerment and highlights political economy perspectives on what it will take to realise greater empowerment for those who need it most.

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The power to decide: women, decision-making and gender equality

Around the world, women now have more influence over the decisions that affect their lives. Even in the most conservative societies, feminists and gender advocates have been able to forward more equitable policies and outcomes.

This briefing explores women’s decision-making power in this context. It looks at the reasons for women’s increased presence in public life around the world, and why women in some socioeconomic groups, sectors and countries have less political power than others. It examines when and how women have power and influence in practice, and what they seek to achieve.

In addition, the authors outline how the international community can better support women’s political leadership by investing in women’s education and economic assets, their organisations and political apprenticeships; focusing on political systems and not just elections; and supporting locally-led and problem-driven responses.

Full paper: The power to decide: women, decision-making and gender equality