Community Based Organizations play a critical role in transforming lives at the grassroots level. These organizations are often non-profit organizations founded to mobilize and to provide support to local communities. They help bridge the gap between the literate and illiterate, the rich and the poor through their social services which are integrated, people centered and participatory. Community Based Organizations also provide opportunity to influence decision making on the issues affecting the rural communities by allowing participation from different social categories such as women, youth and elders.
Since 2013, FIDA Kenya has been working with Community Based Organizations to provide legal aid services to indigent women. The legal aid partnership scheme involves the local screening and counseling of clients, legal advice and referrals. Through this partnership FIDA Kenya has provided legal aid and counseling to over 2,000 women and girls in 20 counties. FIDA Kenya has also leveraged on the CBO networks to escalate advocacy for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. In-turn the paralegals have benefitted from continuous trainings on the law to aid their work.
In 2016, Stephen Ogutu,a paralegal working for Persons with Disability Network, was recognized during the devolution conference as a devolution warrior. Mr. Ogutu although physically challenged has been very resourceful in providing legal aid to local women in Nakuru County. Mr. Ogutu occasionally accompanies women seeking legal support to FIDA Kenya offices. Mr. Ogutu’s story mirrors the work of the other FIDA champions who serve local communities as paralegals spread within community based organizations in the 20 focus counties. The dedication of the paralegals demonstrates the need for sustainable partnership with CBO`s to realize the full enjoyment of women’s rights at all levels including the grassroots level.