Family Law Reform

Family Law Reform to Challenge Gender-based Violence: A Global Campaign

Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) is undertaking a research-based advocacy project designed to meet a critical need identified by women throughout the Global South to counter current legal and social justifications for violence against women. Building on what we have already accomplished through our advocacy training on combating gendered inequalities and discrimination that underlie violence against women reaching 50 countries, our successful campaigns for Family Law reform including in Morocco and the One Million Signatures campaign in Iran, WLP intends to carry out a project focused entirely on challenging violence against women through the reform of laws impacting women in the family.

The project is designed on the premise that Family Law, and any laws impacting women in the family, are one of the leading factors contributing to the justification of violence against women (this is particularly evident in laws grounded in religion, as in the Sharia in some Muslim societies), and that any solution has to address both legislation and dominant cultural understandings in order to see legal reform actually implemented. What inspires our rationale is the plurality of interpretations of the law and the benefit WLP has already documented derived by local communities when they have access to these different interpretations in confronting discriminatory impositions of legal provisions.

 Family law in Muslim-majority societies governs every aspect of a woman's life - from minimum age and conditions of marriage, to divorce, child custody, and the right to work, travel, or decide on a place of residence. 
Guide to Equality in the Family in the Maghreb

This project will provide a support network to counter gender discriminatory laws that incite, encourage and/or justify violence against women, in the name of religion/culture and will become a powerful engine for collective advocacy against patriarchal violence. Its results will encompass more than just changes to legal systems, since it addresses the root cause of social and cultural discourses that make reform and the actual implementation of progressive laws so challenging. WLP’s unique curriculum, training, and capacity building have and will continue to establish in mainstream culture the essential link between universal human rights, countering violence against women, and faith.


This work is being carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. 


More Resources


Moroccan women’s rights activists launched a campaign to reform family laws in 2000, and they achieved their goal in January 2004 when the government of Morocco adopted a new landmark Family Law supporting women’s equality and granting women new rights in marriage and divorce, among others.


Read more in our Family Law Reform Resources section.

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October 19, 2016 | Beyond Equality, 2016 Events, Africa, Americas, Asia, Family Law Reform, Human Rights, Middle East, TPC, Transnational Partners Convening, Brazil, Leadership, Organizational Capacity Building, Egypt, Indonesia, Leading to a Culture of Democracy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Senegal, Turkey, Zimbabwe
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March 28, 2016 | Family Law Reform, Human Rights
  Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) has undertaken a three-year research/advocacy project leading to a global campaign on reform of discriminatory laws against women in the family. The project will focus on the relationship between articles of the law and perpetration of violence against women and girls. The attached document describes the terms of reference for the eleven country case studies the results of which will contribute to developing strong advocacy methods for our global campaign. Applicants must have a graduate degree in a related field, extensive research experience, and good drafting skills in English. Interested candidates should submit a CV, letter of interest, names of three professional references, and a writing sample in English to by April 28, 2016. Please note: Candidates should also list the country in which they are based and the country or countries where they can carry out a case study from among the 11 countries listed in the terms of reference. The initial phase of the project will include case studies from the following 11 WLP partner countries: Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, and Brazil, as well as an additional case study from India.
March 14, 2016 | 2016 Events, Family Law Reform, Human Rights
At CSW60 this March, WLP intends to approach the review theme of elimination and prevention of violence against women from an innovative angle.  Around the world, women are impacted by gender-related legislation that determines their right to marry, travel, hold a job, choose their place of residence, or make decisions about their children’s rights. WLP will present the research and solutions of scholars and activists who have witnessed the connection between these laws as practiced in parts of the Global South and violence against women. The session will discuss the cultural, traditional, and religious foundations of these laws and demonstrate that legal reform is directly related to ending violence against women. Panelists will share challenges and best practices in legal reform from their countries and discuss next steps for the 2015-2030 agenda.
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