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Banjul, 26 May 2023: IHRDA and Malian partner Association pour le Progrès et la Défense des Droits des Femmes au Mali (APDF) have completed a women’s rights strategic litigation surgery, 23-26 May 2023, in Bamako for Malian lawyers and women/girls’ rights defenders.

The workshop sought to equip participants with practical skills to engage in strategic litigation for cases of violations against women/girls and strengthen advocacy against such violations using regional human rights instruments and mechanisms.

Besides underscoring the opportunities and challenges for using legal instruments, such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, for women’s rights litigation in Francophone West Africa, participants examined and treated sample cases on violence and violations against women and girls, within the framework of strategic litigation and legal advocacy.

The workshop culminated in the creation of a pool dubbed “POOL-ADDF-MALI”, comprising participating lawyers and women’s rights defenders as pioneer members. The pool aims to position itself as a collective of lawyers and human rights defenders ready and available to assist women and girls who are victims of human rights violations in Mali. Pool members commit to work in synergy to monitor, document and report on the situation of women/girls’ rights in Mali and provide legal assistance to victims of abuses, for increased access to justice for women/girls at domestic and supranational levels.

Workshop falls within the framework of a project funded by Foundation for a Just Society on strengthening access to justice for women/girls in Francophone West Africa. It is a follow up action to the first phase of the initiative which ran from January 2020 to June 2022, involving Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. One of the major recommendations from the preceding phase was to provide a more intensive strategic litigation training for the main target groups, and to organise them into pools of lawyers and women’s rights defenders proactively working in synergy to support the protection of women/girls and boost their access to justice. It comes after similar events organised by IHRDA in Côte d’Ivoire in May 2023 and Burkina Faso in April 2023.