Human Rights Education
We have collaborated with academics and students to increase the quality of courses in human rights, mainstream human rights in legal courses, and to develop specific courses on gender or clinical legal education. We have also facilitated the development of the first gender plans and audits conducted at two Belarusian faculties.
The very first Law and Gender courses in Belarus
The integration of gender issues into education process helps overcome gender stereotypes, which still persist in many today’s societies. Our cooperation with Belarusian academics and students have produced 9 courses that aim to increase awareness of gender, gender equality and gender policy, and analyse the respective legislative framework to advance gender equality principles. The courses have been taught at different faculties of six Belarusian universities discussing gender linkages in legal, sociological, political, economic, psychological, criminological settings. Between 2018 and 2019, more than 140 students (among them 34% are men) have attended the courses on gender and law and 11 teachers (among them 2 men) have participated in development teaching of these courses. Learn more about their experience in our publication capturing the first observations from teaching Gender and Law courses in Belarus.
Integration of human rights aspects in the work of legal clinics
Clinical legal education (CLE) is a powerful pedagogical and participatory method engaging tutors, students and universities in an international community. RWI supports and teaches CLE, the purpose of which is to achieve justice through education. RWI aims to bring people from various countries and fields together to exchange perspectives and work collaboratively, aiming at increasing the quality of legal teaching. Read more from Clinical Professor Yuliya Khvatsik on Clinical Legal Education.
Over the past 20 years, legal clinics from all regions in Belarus have formed a network, where socially vulnerable categories of citizens can get an access to free legal information and assistance, protection of their rights, and legal education. But until 2016, only a few initiatives of Belarusian legal clinics discussed human rights issues. We have worked with local academics and students to integrate human rights aspects in their CLE work and studies. Legal clinics have acquired experience in promoting and protecting human rights. Primarily, they provide legal information about human rights issues as well as free legal advice to vulnerable groups of citizens of whose rights have been violated. Still, legal clinics have significant potential to expand their support in the promotion and protection of human rights. One of the key areas lies in the introduction of a human rights-based approach to the work of legal clinics, both when teaching students and supporting them in the process of providing legal information and legal advice. Another potential area of expansion is through cooperation with non-governmental/ non-profit organisations when working on strategic cases that can lead to the improvement of legislation and practical application of laws. Read more in our recent publication on legal clinics in Belarus.
Increased dialogue on gender issues at faculties
Gender plans and audits are tools to raise gender awareness all across academic institutions. They help ensure that relevant courses are being taught in a supportive environment, and that research is produced with support from managers, librarians and colleagues. Gender plans and gender audits have also proven useful to sustain the quality of gender equality education and research at the institutions. We have worked with two faculties in Belarus to improve their capacity to gather gender statistics and data and facilitate their organisational learning about practical actions needed for gender mainstreaming. Now, both institutions are now well equipped to conduct independently the new cycles of gender audits and gender plans, which are already incorporated in their planning. Read more about the process in our publication A 10 Year Journey of Promoting Gender Equality in and through Academia in Belarus.