The COVID-19 pandemic not only spurred a public health crisis, but also a justice crisis. Lockdown measures exacerbated human rights violations from gender-based violence to weakened environmental laws in countries around the world. Grassroots justice organizations globally told the Legal Empowerment Network, convened by the non-profit organization Namati, that they could assist their communities in addressing these violations but lacked the resources. 

Namati and their partners stepped in to launch the COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund in July 2020 and aims to mobilize $1 million to distribute among 100 legal empowerment organizations. The fund would provide grant recipient organizations with the funding they need to help marginalized communities receive aid and advocate for equitable recovery plans. Nearly 500 organizations became eligible for the fund.

Here’s a list of nine grassroots justice organizations that were among the first round of COVID-19 Grassroots Justice Fund recipients that you can support now.

1. Development and Justice Initiative (DAJI), India

Launched in 2011, DAJI united activists, researchers, and campaigners dedicated to promoting rights and access to justice for the Indigenous Adivasi peoples of India, other Indigenous groups, refugees, and migrant workers. The organization aims to strengthen justice, dignity, and human rights for people that often face social, legal, cultural, and economic discrimination and marginalization. 

2. ONG FIMA, Chile

Founded in 1998, FIMA is a non-profit NGO that works to support politics, legislation, and environmental justice access in Chile. The organization defends public and community interest in socio-environmental legal conflicts in Chile and trains communities and social organizations to protect their interests and rights.  

3. Familias Diversas Asociación Civil (AFDA), Argentina

The NGO AFDA is working to create a society free of violence and discrimination for all families and where everyone has access to equal opportunities, regardless of their gender. AFDA promotes gender equality and social justice for LGBTQ+ people and women within Argentina and globally by advocating for bodily autonomy and fighting against gender-based violence.

4. Nubian Rights Forum, Kenya

Nubian Rights Forum was founded in 1997 as a human rights movement advocating for the rights of the Nubian ethnic minority in Kenya. The organization has empowered the Nubian community through several initiatives, including helping them apply for citizenship documents.

5. Latin American Institute for an Alternative Society and Law (ILSA), Colombia

Created in 1978, ISLA is an NGO supporting the women’s movement, people living in poverty, Indigenous peoples, and Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean communities in recognition of their rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. ISLA works to find alternatives to oppressive exclusive and discriminatory power systems by strengthening movements and social organizations through critical legal thinking, deriving law from social practices, critical training in current law, and alternative uses of the law. 

6. Braveheart Foundation, Myanmar

The Braveheart organization has helped people from Myanmar obtain citizenship and address ethnic rights issues through paralegal and translation services since 2017. Braveheart advocates for policy changes informed by public concerns and aims to enhance the peace-building process in the country. 

7. Justice Defenders, UK/Global

The charity Justice Defenders trains prisoners and prison staff to become paralegals and lawyers within marginalized communities that often lack legal protection to provide legal services for themselves and others. Justice Defenders aims to bridge the justice gap to empower people to ensure that the law is applied fairly.

8. Buikwe Disabled & Vulnerable Empowerment Association(BUDIVEA), Uganda

BUDIVEA advocates for the most vulnerable communities, including girls, women, and LGBTQ+ people with disabilities in Uganda’s Lake Victoria shores, Buikwe District. The organization promotes justice, access to human rights, health, water and sanitation, and education and actively fights against gender-based violence and climate change. BUDIVEA aims to empower people with disabilities to gain the skills and knowledge of their human rights to reach their full potential.

9. Coalition of Volunteers for Peace and Development (CVPD), the Democratic Republic of Congo

The organization CVPD was established in 2012 to address human rights violations with an emphasis on sexual and domestic violence, threats against human rights defenders, and community conflicts. CPVD continues to identify and respond to issues in the community that imperils human rights, peace, and development. 

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Global Citizen Life

Demand Equity

9 Grassroots Justice Organizations You Can Support Globally

By Leah Rodriguez