The Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) launched its inaugural Women’s Land and Property Rights Litigation Institute, in May 2016. Through the institute, lawyers will expand their insight on strategic litigation through; workshops on case selection criteria, the identification of violations, client selection, case development and support, argument crafting, remedies and implementation of decision. ISLA has collaborated with some of the greatest and renowned minds in litigation, in order to benefit from their vast experience and expertise.
These are the faculty members involved in the 2016 Women’s Land and Property Rights Litigation Institute.
Ambreena Manji is Professor of Land Law and Development at Cardiff Law School (http://www.law.cardiff.ac.uk/). She has published widely on the politics of land law reform in East Africa. In addition, she has held academic posts at the Universities of Warwick and Keele. She has been a visiting fellow at the Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town and at Dar es Salaam Law School. She has been a Global Teaching Fellow at Melbourne Law School and Dame Lillian Penson Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. Between 2010 and 2014, she was seconded to the Directorship of the British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA), a British Academy research institute in Nairobi. In this capacity, she was responsible for the strategic direction of a multidisciplinary research institute supporting researchers in archaeology, history, political science. Kiswahili studies, anthropology, law and literature. She was responsible for initiating a series of innovative research programmes across Eastern Africa and oversaw a widening of the BIEA’s subject reach. Ambreena has advised a number of international organisations on land issues, including the FAO and UNDP. Most recently she has been nominated by the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to act as expert adviser to the Habitat III conference being held in Quito, Ecuador in 2016. She also sits on the Council of the African Studies Association of the UK and serves on the Research Committee of the British Institute in Eastern Africa. She is on the Advisory Board of the Africa Research Institute and is a member of the Editorial Boards of Social and Legal Studies, Feminist Legal Studies and Law and Humanities
Ayesha Sen Choudhury
Ayesha is the Programme Officer for Research and Litigation Strategies at International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) (http://www.iwraw-ap.org/).
IWRAW Asia Pacific is an international organization that focuses on the realization of women’s human rights through implementation and application of international standards and principles, in particular the CEDAW. Ayesha primarily focuses on training of lawyers and judges, and creation of resources on CEDAW, and application of the CEDAW approach to gender equality and non-discrimination in addressing violations of women’s human rights. Additionally, towards ensuring access to justice, she supports lawyer’s groups on strategic litigation and implementation of court watch initiatives at the national level as well as filing cases using mechanisms under the Optional Protocol to CEDAW. Prior to joining IWRAW Asia Pacific, she held various positions with Forum for Women Law and Development (FWLD) in Kathmandu, Nepal and the Lawyers Collective Women’s Rights Initiative in Delhi, India focusing on legal aid and advocacy for law reform on issues relating to gender equality, violence against women, and rights of women with disabilities. She holds an LLB from the University of Pune, India.
Brigadier is the Women’s Land and Property Rights programme lawyer at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/. Brigadier has over 8 years of experience litigating land rights disputes, property grabbing and gender-based violence. Prior to joining SALC, he spent 6 years as an advocate at the International Justice Mission (IJM) protecting indigent victims of succession and inheritance land rights violations in Zambia, mostly widows and orphans, through litigation. While at IJM, Brigadier trained and equipped over 8,000 police officers, prosecutors, magistrates, church leaders, and community members at over 800 training events on how to respond effectively to property grabbing and other forms of gender-based violence. Brigadier also organized innovative media engagements to reach tens of thousands of Zambians to increase awareness and change attitudes and beliefs regarding women’s rights, property grabbing and gender-based violence. Brigadier holds an LL.B degree from the University of Zambia, and an LL.M degree in International Business and Economic Law and a Certificate in International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution from Georgetown University Law Center.
Chantel is a judge of the Western Cape High Court http://www.justice.gov.za/about/sa-courts.html. She was born in Paarl and was actively involved in the liberation struggle of South Africa, focusing in particular on the women’s struggle. She started her interaction in law as a para-legal during the early 80’s and coordinated the Paarl Advice Office in the Paarl Valley for 10 years, providing basic legal services to members of the community. After South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, she resumed her studies and started as a candidate attorney at the Legal Resources Centre in 1996. While there, she coordinated the Women’s Rights project at from 1998 to 2003. She participated in a number of training sessions on women’s rights and race with Magistrates, teachers, para-legals, attorneys and advocates over the past 30 years and served as a guest lecturer in Women’s Rights law at the University of Cape Town in 1999. She also serves on a number of other organizations, in particular a non – profit organization based in Paarl focusing on transferring skills to the youth while teaching them how to participate in creating a caring society. She serves as the Chancellor of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa since 2006. In 2005 she was called to act as a High Court judge at the Cape High Court. She acted in that capacity until September 2006. She was thereafter called to act as a judge in the Eastern Cape High Court in 2009 and again at the Western Cape High Court in January 2010. In 2011-2015 judge Fortuin presided in S v G Thomas and 17 others, one of the biggest gang-related criminal prosecutions in South Africa,
Charlene Celeste May
Charlene is an attorney at the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) http://www.lrc.org.za/ , a public interest non-profit law Centre based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She obtained her LLB degree from the University of the Western Cape and completed her articles of clerkship at the LRC. She currently coordinates the equality and non-discrimination focus area of the LRC which is focused on providing legal assistance to individuals and communities who are faced with discrimination. She has a special interest in gender law and has litigated, trained and published on issues ranging from women’s access to socio-economic rights, gender based violence, sexual orientation and gender identity as well as custom and its impact on the lives of women.
Cathi is a Professor of Law at the School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand http://www.wits.ac.za/law/ , South Africa, where she teaches graduate and post-graduate courses in Constitutional Law and Human Rights. She has a BA.LLB from UCT and an M.Phil and PhD from Cambridge University. She is also an attorney of the High Court of South Africa (non-practising roll). Prior to joining the School, Cathi was the Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (2001-2007) and headed its Gender Research Programme for ten years (1992 – 2001). Cathi’s research interests include Equality, Gender Studies, Human Rights, the Judiciary and Constitutional Law.
Doo is the founder and Director of Women to Women Development Consultancy working in Law, Feminism, Gender and Development. She served as Regional Coordinator for Women’s Legal Rights Initiative responsible for six Southern African countries. She is the founding National Coordinator of Women and Law in Southern Africa Trust (Swaziland) where she conducted and supervised action research in different family law areas leading to several co-authored publications. A founding of officer of the Legal Aid Clinic of the Council of Swaziland Churches and an active member of the women’s movement serving in various portfolios in Swaziland and Southern Africa.
Gaynor G Paradza
Gaynor is a Zimbabwean development practitioner based in Johannesburg, South Africa. A land governance expert, Gaynor has more than 20 years’ experience working on land issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has also worked in land policy formulation, capacity building and support with the Land Policy Initiative of the African Union, Pan African Parliament and the Food and Agriculture Organisation. She holds a Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Rural and Urban Planning from the University of Zimbabwe, a Master of Science Degree in Rural Planning from the same university and a PhD in Law and Governance from Wageningen University based in the Netherlands. Her PhD thesis on “Single Women, Land and Livelihood Vulnerability in the Communal Areas of Zimbabwe” has been published into a book. She has also published on Land and Agrarian Reform, Large Scale Land Based investments and Pro-Poor Value Chain Governance. Currently she is a Technical Adviser to the South African Government’s Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Dr Adjolohoun is currently Principal Legal Officer at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights http://en.african-court.org/ . Prior to joining the Court, he was Senior Legal Expert and Team Leader on a project aiming a clearing the backlog of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and boosting referral of cases from the Commission to the Court (2013-2015). Before working at the Commission, he worked as Litigation and Research Project Coordinator at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (2011-2012). Between 2008 and 2010, he contributed to various research, moot litigation projects; worked as human rights researcher or consultant with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Commission of Jurists, Global Rights, Benin National Human Rights Commission, African Union, and Constitutional Court of Benin. From 2002 to 2006, he worked as Program Officer with the Francophone Africa Supreme Courts Association on a judicial human rights protection programme in organizing human rights training, exchanges visit, thematic conferences, and building a case law and legislative database for law professionals in West and Central Africa. He has a significant experience in human rights litigation namely before the ECOWAS Court of Justice, the African Court, and the African Commission. He holds an LL.D. in public international law (human rights) and an LL.M. in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Prior to studying in South Africa, he obtained a BA in Public Administration and Law from the Benin National School of Administration and Judicial Training and a Licence in public law from USAM (Benin). Has written and published books, chapters in books, and articles on international criminal law in national systems, international law and domestic human rights litigation in Africa, African constitutionalism, constitutional and international human rights litigation, implementation of international human rights bodies’ decisions.
Millicent Akinyi Odeny
Millicent is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya http://www.judiciary.go.ke/portal/page/high-court with more than 24 years’ experience in legal practice and international rule of law training. She holds a Master’s Degree in Women’s Law from the University of Zimbabwe and a Bachelor of laws degree from the University of Nairobi with a postgraduate diploma in law from the Kenya School of Law. She also holds a Certificate in Legislative drafting and several advanced short course certificates in Human Rights from the University of Pretoria. She is currently a Principal Lecturer at the Kenya School of Law and undertaking her LLD at the University of Pretoria. Recently she worked as a land Lawyer for a USAID funded project in South Sudan (Sudan Rural Land Governance Project) and has carried out extensive research on women’s Land rights. She was the lead consultant for the Land Policy Initiative (LPI) study on “Strengthening women’s land rights in Africa”.
Rumbidzai is a human rights lawyer, and the Gender-Based Violence Coordinator for UN Women-Zimbabwe http://africa.unwomen.org/en/where-we-are/eastern-and-southern-africa/zimbabwe . She has over 8 years’ experience conducting research and evidence based advocacy, locally, regionally and internationally on human rights, development and democratization issues in Africa, including gender based violence and women’s economic development and empowerment. Before joining UN Women-Zimbabwe, Rumbidzai was a Legal Expert at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in Banjul-The Gambia where she advised the Commission in exercising its mandate to protect human rights and drafted decisions on communications submitted to the Commission. Prior to this, she was a Senior Researcher at the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), an NGO in Zimbabwe where she researched on child marriage, sexual and other politically motivated violence. She also led programmes on youth agency in peace building and on women and youth’s roles in fostering parliamentary accountability. She is published on critical issues affecting women including societal perceptions of rape, right to a remedy and reparation for victims of gender based violence, forced marriage and sexual assault in elections, and access to an identity and citizenship. She has worked in varying capacities with the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, in Ethiopia; the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies in Egypt; the then Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) and the Office of Criminal Justice Services of the Department of Public Safety in Ohio, the United States. Rumbidzai has a LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the University of Pretoria, South Africa and a Bachelor of Laws Honours’ degree from the University of Zimbabwe.
Sibongile is the founder of ISLA http://www.the-isla.org/ . She is a feminist lawyer who has worked as a public interest lawyer for the past 15 years. First Sibongile practiced as a domestic lawyer in South Africa working for two of the largest public interest litigation organisations, the Legal Resources Centre and the Women’s Legal Centre focusing on women’s rights, and then as a researcher at the South African Constitutional Court. For over six years, she was the lead lawyer on Equality in Africa at Interights, focusing on litigating women’s human rights and violation based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE). Her work focused on regional human rights litigation, working before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights with a focus on discrimination. She has litigated cases before the African commission, worked with domestic lawyers from a range of African countries, and provided technical legal assistance to lawyers litigating before national courts. In a context where access to legal representation for people whose rights are violated on the basis of SOGIE, Sibongile has worked to support regional and domestic movements who are looking to litigate sexual orientation and gender identity matters before domestic courts. She continues to provide technical legal support to African domestic and regional organisations working before the African Human Rights Systems and The United Human Rights Systems. She has worked to establish The African LGBTI Rights Lawyers Network (ALRILaN), a network aimed at supporting lawyers who are litigating SOGIE cases.
For information on the Women’s Land and Property Rights Litigation Institute’s programme and the sessions presented by our experts, download the programme here.