Lab: a place for experimentation and creativity in advocacy
SAHR's founder delivering a workshop on women's property rights in Afghanistan
SAHR workshop for advocates on proving the elements of rape
What is a Justice Lab?
The Justice Lab is a platform where advocates come together and practically respond to current events, cases, issues and opportunities.
Is it for me?
Yes, if you are passionate about law and public policy and its power to make meaningful and lasting change to social justice.
Why law and policy?
Because it is the study of ‘influence’ and ‘the influential’, as Harold D. Lasswell, puts it.
The work of law and policy has traditionally been the domain of the elite and educated.
But we know best the problems in our community. So when we can master law and policy, when we can develop a point of view, and position a solution, that is when we can truly influence justice.
How we have used the lab as a platform?
In the past, we have taken up cases in court and supported advocates to reform law and policy, and, advocate before the UN and international community.
For example, we have supported interventions in cases of sexual violence in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Vanuatu and Columbia. This involved interviewing survivors and witnesses, gathering evidence, submitting petitions to government entities to compel action, negotiating with governments, conducting international advocacy, submitting reports to UN entities and amicus briefs to international courts to advocate for a position in a matter.
We have also conducted workshops and given mentorship and advice on the following thematics.
Interpreting gender-equality in Islamic law
Applying intersectional analysis when documenting violations in a case
Drafting legislation on rape and sexual assault
Developing policy on sexual harassment in higher education
Drafting submissions on reparations and compensation for survivors of sexual violence
Developing recommendations to the international community on urgent issues
Interviewing vulnerable survivors and witnesses
Out of our Justice Labs, we have also developed a range of resources and tools* for advocates, including an e-resource of landmark case law on women's rights under Islamic law.
*Some of the tools were published under our former name, "Femin Ijtihad" ('Ijtihad' means critical thinking of law).
The SAHR team guided me to collect evidence and provide input into legal arguments while developing my legal skills.
Thanks to their incredible team, I finally was able to execute an intervention that was rooted in a survivor centered approach. I would not have the confidence or ability or will to do so, if I hadn't met the team at SAHR.
Please know the work you guys do transcends beyond us and we are coming together as women to help other women.
SAHR working with Yasmine on a case of sexual violence before Vanuatu courts
When I wanted to give up, fortunately SAHR reached me and took over my cause.
Natasha was by my side helping me in my fight to justice and reparation.
It is very important for a victim to receive legal advice. Us, victims of rape, we endure a lot of re-victimisation.
Our pain is invisible, it’s inside. It is very important to have a lawyer, to have someone to trust. So many women cannot afford a lawyer and has no rights or power to raise their voice.
SAHR workshop on submitting country reports to the UN Special Rapporteur
SAHR dialogue on submitting country reports to the UN Special Rapporteur
Who runs the labs?
The labs are peer-led. They are convened and facilitated by advocates in our network.
What is the format?
In the past our Justice Labs have taken various forms, from workshops to one-on-one mentorships, dialogues, seminars, working groups, town halls and check-in calls. They can be virtual or in-person. The format of the lab is based on what is most effective and appropriate.
Why it matters
Having a network of peers through the lab, who we can rely on for technical support can be uplifting and rewarding.
It gives us confidence in our interventions, and, empowers us to dream big and seize opportunities in law and policy, to change things.
Coalition of Legal Experts on Afghanistan (CALE)
In response to the crisis in Afghanistan, in August 2021, we set up coalition human rights defenders, human rights lawyers and justice professionals to provide a platform to exchange information about barriers and opportunities to women’s access to justice.
Through this network, we are inform foreign policy making around international community strategy and engagement in Afghanistan.
GENDER JUSTICE FELLOWS
To incubate and support interventions for change, SAHR runs a bi-annual Gender Justice Fellowship Program, for advocates pursuing an intervention for change in court or in law and policy.
Advocates are supported with technical and financial support to conduct research, fact-finding, criminal and civil investigation in a relation to a case or law or policy reform opportunity in their countries.
The Program has supported advocates and interventions in Vanuatu, Columbia, Afghanistan, Argentina, Mexico, Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan.
To recognise former wives of Boko Haram soldiers as victims and give them access to holistic reparations in Nigeria;
To document sexual harassment at a university in Pakistan;
To develop policy to make justice more accessible to disabled survivors of sexual violence in Indonesia;
To recognize sexual, health and reproductive rights of diverse and lesbian women in prison in Mexico; and
To strengthen public institutional accountability and financial reparations for sexual harassment committed by a civil servant in Argentina.
SAHR is launching a SAHR Justice Podcast, which we imagine to be a place where advocates - be they authors, activists, or academics - can share stories at the frontlines of justice, and how justice has and can be reimagined for our futures.
How do we reimagine justice? How do we advocate in times of war, battle with polarising ideas, collaborate with allies and drive change?
In our episodes we go into the lives and works of advocates and explore how they are carving their own pathways to justice. The episodes will be intersectional, interdisciplinary and inspiring! It will also memorialise the work we have done as advocates, and, shape the work that's to come.