Changing the legal environment can have transformative impacts on the lives of the most vulnerable. However, little is known about how legal advocacy can effectively achieve this within contexts where governments are not receptive to advocacy of this nature. This article outlines the activities of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) as it played a focal role in changing the Family Law, making important progress to removing aspects of the law that discriminated against women. We outline the ‘pathway’ of change taken by the organization, which moved from service provision to building an evidence-based, formal and informal advocacy, and finally utilizing critical junctures to encourage change to the law. This article also highlights the important role of enabling environments, as after several successful efforts of legal advocacy, the government closed down the operational space for legal advocacy, effectively stifling continued, or any new forms of, legal advocacy. This article provides insight on successful approaches to legal advocacy in challenging governance contexts as well as the limitations and opportunities that external actors can have.

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Forum for Development Studies
Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs

Cochrane, L, & Birhanu, B.B. (Betel Bekele). (2018). Pathways of Legal Advocacy for Change: Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association. Forum for Development Studies. doi:10.1080/08039410.2018.1534752