Through the Strengthening Community Capacity Project, LEAF will help gender-based violence sector organizations increase their capacity to push for systemic change in the courts.
Using the courts to address gender-based violence
Addressing gender-based violence requires action on both individual and systemic levels. Getting involved in court cases through feminist strategic litigation is one key tool for advancing systemic change.
Feminist strategic litigation is feminist lawyering on feminist issues with feminist goals. While people usually engage in feminist strategic litigation through an individual court case, the strategic reason for getting involved is the potential to push for broader change that goes beyond that individual case – change to legislation, policies, and practices by centering and building on the expertise of communities. The use of feminist strategic litigation by organizations working on issues related to gender-based violence can have a significant effect on gender-based violence prevention and response. It can also empower the communities they serve.
The ability to use feminist strategic litigation, however, is deeply uneven in the gender-based violence sector. Litigation is expensive and time-consuming. The colonial legal system can be difficult to navigate. This particularly creates barriers to accessing feminist strategic litigation for women, trans, and non-binary people who are Black, Indigenous, racialized, low-income, disabled, and/or newcomers, and for the organizations working with and for them.
For more on LEAF’s feminist strategic litigation work and our five-year plan setting out our litigation priorities for 2022-2026, check out our Feminist Strategic Litigation Project.
Building knowledge through the Strengthening Community Capacity Project
From 2024 – 2026, LEAF will work with around 30 participating organizations across the country to help them further develop their capacity to use the legal system to push for change. To do this, LEAF will:
- host workshops for participating organizations on how and why to engage in feminist strategic litigation.
- create online resources, such as guides explaining different court levels and how organizations can get involved in litigation.
- build connections and networks between organizations, as well as between organizations and different actors in the court system.
The participating organizations are already experts in gender-based violence. They know about the issues facing the communities they serve, and they have ideas about what needs to change.
The Strengthening Community Capacity Project provides another tool to help address gender-based violence and effect systemic change. LEAF hopes that organizations leave the project with a better understanding of how to use the courts, resources their organization can use in the future, and new and deeper connections with other gender-based violence organizations.
To learn more, contact:
Senior Staff Lawyer and Project Director of the Strengthening Community Capacity Project
LEAF acknowledges the support of Women and Gender Equality Canada.