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Empowering Paralegal Worker towards Gender Equality and Social Inclusion

“I did not know how I can incorporate Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in my work as paralegal and how to consider vulnerable groups”. With grief, Julienne Mukamuganga who is a citizen of Musanze District shared the above information. Interconnected, this came to prove how it is difficult for some Rwandans to access justice services. For this reason, Haguruka Non-Government Organization has initiated different processes to get the issue solved. Specifically, Haguruka prepared training sessions which were to help in bringing justice services near to the marginalized women and children or disabled people.

From September 17 to September 28, 2018, Haguruka, in partnership with USAID under the DIU (Duteze Imbere Ubutabera) project had provided training services to 74 paralegals (people trained in supplementary legal matters but not fully qualified as a lawyer) from five district of Rwanda (Gasabo, Bugesera, Musanze, Nyamasheke, and Nyaruguru districts).

The aim of this training was to equip paralegal workers with the skills to provide legal information and services as well as act as a bridge between informal and formal justice system. The training also aimed to help paralegal workers from the countryside to provide good justice services, which will impact the justice, reconciliation, law, and other sectors in Rwanda. Our ultimate goal is to increase access to justice for traditionally marginalized Rwandan; women, young people, and people with disabilities and other vulnerable demographic groups.

The DIU and Haguruka trained paralegal workers from the chosen target districts in understanding gender equality and social inclusion analysis and how they can apply certain techniques to country-specific issues and the challenges women and vulnerable population face. The training also assisted paralegal to integrate specific GESI-sensitive strategies in their work to identify the different needs of male and female sectors and activities that support inclusion of men, women, and vulnerable populations equitably.

Haguruka and the DIU have organized to launch this training at three different venues and three different sessions (Bugesera, Musanze, and Huye). To ensure that paralegal workers in these areas are skills in gender equality and social inclusion strategy, different training methods have been used; presentations, group discussions and real-life case studies will help paralegal workers to share their daily working challenges and set measures of how they can overcome them. Also, the training was delivered in Kinyarwanda, and was led by the external trainers hired by DIU as well as the DIU vulnerable Population Specialist.

The training program was productive for both trainers and trainees, and paralegal workers have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to help vulnerable people access judiciary services equitably and effectively. As much as fact, Murenzi James, a training participant, said that “this training was very needed and very useful, as many lawyers are still struggling with the system and have to pay money to other people like in cyber cafes, to help them submit their cases in the system. We’ve now mastered the system and are going to effectively support our colleagues and other service seekers”. Ruzindana Damien, participant of IECMS training from Nyagatare district.

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