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Create legal education materials

Last edited: December 21, 2011

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High quality legal education materials can help women and girls understand and claim their rights.

  • Work with experts who have a detailed understanding of the governing formal laws, customary practices, or religious laws, and their impact on women and girls, to ensure that materials present accurate information.
  • Relate the laws, customs, or practices being addressed back to international human rights principles and clarify that human rights principles must take precedence over country laws, customs, or practices.
  • Create materials that help people understand both the formal and informal sector options available to them. Many of those working in the justice sector regularly are dealing with the overlap of formal and informal systems.
  • Know the audience for the materials, but do not make assumptions. Judges, survivors of violence, community advocates, and traditional leaders likely will need different types of information and need it presented in different ways. Work with those who will use the materials to listen to their needs and to pre-test materials. It can be easy to assume that certain audiences, in particular judges or magistrates, have a particular literacy level, or are aware of certain basic legal information. These assumptions can be problematic, especially in post-conflict settings where education has been interrupted or unavailable for many years. Seek guidance from experts on developing materials for low-literacy audiences if needed.
  • Create materials in a format that is easy for people to carry and reference regularly. Smaller size booklets, quick reference pages, and charts that quickly compare concepts make it more likely that materials will be used.


Indonesia – Legal Education Materials Compare Formal and Informal Practice

In Indonesia after the tsunami in 2004, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) worked extensively to build the capacity of local legal stakeholders, such as local non-governmental organizations, courts, and community members to understand the multiple legal regimes in place in Aceh. IDLO published a series of guidebooks detailing land law and guardianship practices, including the rights of women in the justice process. An evaluation of the project revealed that a particularly helpful tool was a matrix (sample row shown below) comparing customary norms, formal laws, and Islamic legal opinions on a given issue.


Formal Law

Customary Principles and Norms

Islamic Legal Opinions/ Principles




There is nothing in the Islamic Law Compilation which prohibits females from being appointed as guardians.


Under customary law men are generally appointed guardians. However, in certain situations (e.g. where there are no male eligible to be appointed), a female may act as guardian (over both the day-to-day care of the child and its property). However, she would not be given the title of ‘wali’.


There is broad support from the Members of Parliament Union that mothers may – and generally should – be appointed guardian of their children when their husband has died. However, with respect to the child’s inherited assets, responsibility should rest with the father, the grandfather or, in their absence, the guardian or the Mahkamah Syar’iyah.


According to the Indonesian legal scholar, Subekti, a surviving spouse will automatically ‘by operation of statute’ become the guardian of their own children who are under 18 years of age. In practice, the Mahkamah Syar’iyah supports the appointment of female guardians. Post-tsunami, there have been several cases where the court has appointed maternal grandmothers as guardians of their grandchildren.


The entire guidebook including the matrix of laws and the three shorter FAQ documents can be downloaded for review.

Guidebook on Land, Inheritance and Guardianship Law in Post-Tsunami Aceh

10 Frequently Asked Questions on Inheritance Law in Post-Tsunami Aceh

20 Frequently Asked Questions on the Guardianship of Children without Parental Care in Post-Tsunami Aceh

10 Frequently Asked Questions on Guardianship Law in Post-Tsunami Aceh


Sources: Harper. 2010; International Development Law Organization. 2006. Guidebook on Land, Inheritance and Guardianship Law in Post-Tsunami Aceh.