2013 saw IYR launch a Legal Fellowship Program for Tanzanian law graduates committed to public interest law. We would love for you to partner with Inherit Your Rights in this venture.
Legal Fellowship Program
The fellowship consists of three years:
Year 1: Fellows (recent Bachelors of Law graduates) will work for IYR as paralegals, focusing on legal education and providing basic legal assistance to the communities we work with.
Year 2: Fellows will complete their legal certification program at the University of Dar es Salaam. IYR will give the fellows a loan to cover all of their expenses (tuition fees, living expenses, books, etc.).
Year 3: Fellows will return to IYR to work as fully certified advocates for one year, with a raise in their salary and a piece of their loan being forgiven each month. If a Fellow chooses not to return, they are welcome to simply pay off their loan over a one-year period.
This program will both improve IYR’s capacity to provide direct legal aid and education by expanding our staff and our expertise, and increase the number of human rights lawyers in Tanzania.
Why the Fellowship Program is needed
Protecting Women’s Rights
In Tanzania, Maasai widows are vulnerable to abuse: when a man dies, his wife inherits nothing unless she is childless and there are no other relatives. The man’s children are the rightful heirs. However, if the children are too young to assert their rights, the man’s family often takes advantage of the situation and expels the widows from the land. These women, alone and with no means of supporting themselves or their children need both legal representation and practical assistance.
This Fellowship will allow IYR to assist more women in need. Furthermore, we hope that our fellows will go on to continue such work beyond the Fellowship Program.
Tanzania faces a severe lawyer shortage, and in particular a shortage of public interest lawyers working in rural Tanzania where the majority of people live. Tanzania only has about six lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants. Neighboring Kenya has three times that and the United States has over 300 lawyers per 100,000 inhabitants.
The IYR Fellowship Program directly addresses this issue by helping to increase the legal workforce in Tanzania. Furthermore, the Fellowship Program will select candidates based on their commitment to public interest work in rural Tanzania, which will increase access to justice for the rural poor.
The High Cost of Legal Education
One reason there are too few lawyers in Tanzania is the high cost of legal certification. In Tanzania, qualifying as a lawyer involves a two-step process. First, you must obtain a Bachelor’s in Law degree, and then you must complete a one-year legal certification program at the University of Dar es Salaam. Unfortunately, the cost of acquiring a Certificate in Law at the University of Dar es Salaam prevents many lawyers from ever qualifying. Once living expenses are added to the tuition fees, the overall cost of the course exceeds $3,500. In a country with a per capita adjusted GDP of just $1,515, it is clear to see why the cost of law school is prohibitive for many. Interested students have to work for many years to build up enough money to afford their certificate.
By providing Fellows with a financial loan to cover the cost of the Certificate in Law, the IYR Fellowship Program will make legal qualification a realistic goal for more Tanzanian law graduates.
Value of the Legal Fellowship Program
The Legal Fellowship Program will bring impactful and sustainable change for good in Tanzania, by helping to build up the numbers of qualified local lawyers, and specifically local lawyers who are interested in human rights work and who are able to go out and work with the rural Maasai communities.
The program will also help IYR to be more effective. Currently, we have two full-time members of staff, and anywhere from three to five volunteers who come to work for IYR for a two to three month period. We work every day to provide legal education and to support women in need of help, but we could do even more! By hiring Fellows who speak Maasai and Swahili, we would be able to spend more time out in Maasailand giving lectures and educating the community. We would also be better able to provide legal aid to the communities in which we work, defending widows’ land rights.
Cost of the Legal Fellowship Program
IYR needs $15,000 to fully fund the program for one fellow. We hope that you will consider partnering with us in this exciting new program. For more information, please get in touch by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.