Filling the legal void? Impacts of a community-based legal aid program on women’s land-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices
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Securing women's property rights improves overall welfare. While governments in Africa often make provisions for gender-equal legal rights, the dichotomy between de jure and customary practices remains. Community-based legal aid (CBLA) has been promoted to address this chasm through provision of free legal aid and education. We evaluate a one-year CBLA program in Tanzania using a randomized controlled trial. Results show women in treatment communities had higher exposure to legal services and increased their legal knowledge. Women who had access to a trained voluntary paralegal experienced a 0.31 standard deviation increase in a legal service index, and a 0.20 standard deviation increase in an index documenting their knowledge of land-related regulations. These changes were, however, insufficient to shift women's attitudes or result in more favorable gendered land practices. Estimates by village size and progressiveness reveal that transaction costs and social context influence program success.
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