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Access to Justice

This programme involves giving legal advice verbally or through correspondence, legal drafting, mediation, negotiation and court representation where necessary. The target group for legal aid is indigent women assessed through a means test administered internally as well as all minor children regardless of sex. Legal aid is provided at the Harare and Bulawayo offices as well as through mobile legal aid clinics to outlying areas such as Murombedzi, Norton Hatcliffe, Nketa, Emganwini, Esigodini and Gwanda.

In Zimbabwe it is estimated that women and the girl children constitute 51% of the population. According to the Central Static Office(1998) wage income is more accessible to men than it is to women. About 75.6% of all Zimbabweans are poor and about 60% of these are women. On average people cannot afford to pay lawyers for legal services and the situation is worse for women. ZWLA's core business business is therefore to provide legal aid to address women's legal needs. The emphasis is on women because women have remained more disadvantaged than their male counterparts due to historical, socio-ecomic and cultural reasons. ZWLA's legal aid programme was therefore established to fill in the gap after realising that a lot of women are affected negatively particularly in the area of family law.

In 2001 ZWLA began its empowerment sessions to try to empower women with simple magistrates court cases in both offices so that these became self actors and represent themselves in court. This was meant to reduce the need to try and provide legal representation in individual cases in the magistrates' court create time and in complex legal cases in the High Court and Supreme Court and cater for test cases and class action suits for the extension of legal rights to whole classes of women. In Harare Empowerment targets women who want to claim maintenance and conducted at the Civil Magistrates Court on Mondays. In Bulawayo this conducted at the ZWLA offices. Empowerment has become a popular programme and receives overwhelming attendance occasionally; women with cases of a similar nature inheritance or division of property are grouped together and trained to be successful self actors in their matters.