The African Women’s Empowerment Project
Launched in October 2010, the African Women’s Empowerment Project provides vital services in the DC metro area to the African immigrant community, the nation’s fastest growing immigrant population. The project is led by our Akin Gump Equal Justice Works Fellow, Lindsay M. Harris, who conducts educational outreach with churches, mosques, and women’s groups. Lindsay provides direct representation to African women and girls fleeing gender-based violence who qualify for immigration relief, and mentors pro bono attorneys working with African clients.
The African Women’s Empowerment Project serves clients from over twenty African countries and counting. These cases include:
- A young East African woman trafficked to the United States by an employee of an international organization and forced to work for several years without pay.
- A West African woman in her fifties who suffered female genital mutilation (FGM) at 6 years old and was forced into marriage to a much older man at age 12. She and her family are now seeking asylum because she is adamantly opposed to FGM and does not want her 12-year-old daughter to suffer the same fate.
- A West African woman who was brutally beaten by her US resident husband. His abuse caused her to miscarry their baby.
How You Can Help
Lindsay’s work is funded by the Equal Justice Works Fellowship through the generosity of Akin Gump, LLC. Yet providing holistic, empowering legal representation often requires complementary services, without which the women and girls we serve would be unable to access justice. Your donation will fund services such as:
If you are interested in learning more about the African Women’s Empowerment Project or would like to provide volunteer translation services, please contact Lindsay at Lindsay@tahirih.org or (571) 282-6161.
- Translation: Many of Tahirih’s African clients speak languages that are less commonly spoken in the United States. Though Lindsay speaks French and we make best efforts to locate a volunteer translator who speaks the client’s language, with many of these less common languages Tahirih must pay for professional translation services. Non-English speakers are often the most vulnerable in our client population, and their ability to communicate with staff is essential in order to access justice.
- Psychological services: Women and girls fleeing violence have suffered extreme trauma and many are in need of psychological counseling services. Though some of these services are provided pro bono by our partner organizations, more often funding is required so that a client may attend ongoing counseling sessions or obtain a psychological evaluation for her case.
- Transportation: many of our African clients are located far from Tahirih’s Falls Church office, where the African Women’s Empowerment Project is located. Funds are required to enable these women to travel to Tahirih, or to assist Lindsay in traveling to them.
About our Akin Gump Equal Justice Works Fellow:
Lindsay’s experience in working with African immigrants and refugees makes her an ideal candidate for outreach to this population. Before joining Tahirih, Lindsay completed a clerkship with Ninth Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson, where she focused on immigration and asylum cases. In 2009, Lindsay graduated from Berkeley Law after coordinating the California Asylum Representation Clinic and participating in the East Bay Community Law Center’s Health Immigration Project and the International Human Rights Law Clinic. Through these clinics, Lindsay represented clients as a student advocate from Kenya, Cameroon, Liberia, Algeria, and Tanzania. Prior to law school, Lindsay managed a fair trade non-profit organization working with African women to provide empowerment and the dignity of work. She has lived in Ghana and South Africa, working with women from all over Africa and specifically focusing on gender-based asylum issues.
Akin Gump Equal Justice Works Fellow Will Focus on African Women, Tahirih Justice Center Newsletter, December 1, 2010
Lindsay Harris wins Sax Prize for Clinical Excellency, Berkeley Law, April 29, 2009
Spotlight: Students Flock to Asylum Clinic, Berkeley Law, October 16, 2008
California Asylum Clinic Brings Rewards for Berkeley Duo, Berkeley Law, June 9, 2008