On the 7th April, 2016, at the Helvetas Office in Vientiane, Laos, Bridges Across Borders South East Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE),  The Association of Development of Women and Legal Education (ADWLE) and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Consortium Agreement for the Project Implementation of “Bringing Justice Closer to Women suffering from Gender Based Violence(GVB)” , or the “Women’s Access to Justice (WAJ)” project in short. The project is funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and is a three-and-a-half-year project. The MOU signing ceremony included representatives from all three Consortium organization partners. The Association of Development of Women and Legal Education (ADWLE) was represented by Inthana Bouphasavanh, Director; HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in Laos was represented by Celestine Kroesschell, Country Director and Bong Munsayaphom, Deputy Country Director; Bridges Across Borders South East Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEACLE) was represented by Bruce A Lasky, BABSEACLE Director; Wendy Morrish, BABSEACLE Director and Pavina Thephithuck, BABSEACLE Legal Trainer.

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the reduction of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and increased access to justice for vulnerable women in Laos. Specifically, the project aims to ensure that the rights of vulnerable women at risk from GBV are strengthened and better protected. This includes communities having a more complete understanding of what option exist to help prevent, protect ways to seek support to address GBV cases.

As part of this important initiative, the Consortium will be collaborating with the National University of Laos Faculty of Law and Political Science Clinical Legal Education Program(FLPCLE) and Champasak University. This collaboration will both strengthen the WAJ project as well as further support the development of clinical legal education throughout the country. In order to achieve this goal of CLE proliferation, both BABSEACLE and FLP CLE will help guide the Champassak Law Faculty to set up the CLE program focusing on GVB community teaching.  In doing so the newly developed CLE program at the Champassak Law Faculty will help law students, teachers, government officials and duty bearers, gain more skills to work in the legal sector and especially in “Bringing Justice Closer to Women Suffering from Gender Based Violence(GVB)”.

By Pavina Thephithuck, BABSEACLE Legal Trainer