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Legal Advocacy

We bring community-based women into the global policymaking arena, enabling them to infuse local human rights struggles with the power of international law.

Local women’s rights organizers work on critical issues and contribute practical solutions, from law reform and implementation to changing social norms and building a more just and sustainable society. Their unique expertise allows them to best identify, meet the needs of and advocate for the women and communities they serve. Yet women throughout the world are rarely included in decision-making processes.

We ensure that community-based women leaders have the access, resources and training to advocate in policymaking spaces.

Partnering to Advocate for Change

We work with our community-based partners and with our allies in our network of legal advocates to identify opportunities for changes to laws and policies that will help advance community priorities and build more just societies. We give our partners the language and framework to identify the abuses they face as human rights violations and the skills and strategies to take the next step. Crucially, we overcome barriers to marginalized women's participation in policymaking, by providing legal aid, training, translation and accompaniment through advocacy processes.

We also collaborate with the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. We combine their legal expertise, the support of their faculty and students, and the leadership of our grassroots partners to formulate effective advocacy campaigns to shift policy and promote rights.

Through our Legal Advocacy strategy, we work to make international law relevant and accountable to the people it is meant to serve.

Bringing Policy Wins Back Home

MADRE further uses the interconnectedness of law, policy and practice from local to international levels to create a powerful feedback loop, in which multiple decision-makers — from United Nations agencies to local government, from national governments to international human rights bodies — support grassroots women’s groups’ demands.

When we win a legal or policy change, we know our work has just begun. To realize these changes, we use multi-tiered advocacy, generating and operationalizing feedback between local, national and international policy arenas. We mobilize with our local partners to hold governments accountable to the promises they've made and to make sure that improved policies are actually implemented at the community level.

We do not treat human rights as a mechanistic check-list but as a work in progress and an ever-evolving framework that is ours to define and redefine in pursuit of our vision of a gender just world.

How do we know when we've succeeded in our legal advocacy?
  • Our partners have access to policy spaces from the local to global levels and can speak for themselves, making their voices heard by policy and decision-makers.

  • Our partners are equipped to equitably and effectively implement gains won in the international human rights arena at the national and local level.

  • MADRE and our partners’ advocacy has contributed to laws and policies that uphold our vision of human rights.

Learn More about How We Work