Liberian Lawyer, Cllr. Margaret M. Nigba Wins Human Rights Defenders Of The Month Award

Cllr. Margaret M. Nigba

An international body, Defend Defenders has named Cllr. Margaret M. Nigba as the Human Right Defender of the month.

The body under the Human Rights Defenders project and network respectively is based in the East and Horn of Africa.

The body recently climaxed its 4th General Assembly recently in Kampala, Uganda where it took the decision.

Among other things, Human rights defenders seek the promotion and protection of civil and political rights as well as the promotion, protection and realization of economic, social and cultural rights.

The latest and proud monthly recipient and or   honoree is an astute Liberian Human Rights Lawyer Cllr. Margaret Muna  Nigba who hailed from Grand Kru County, South Eastern Liberia.

Over the years, she has won the hearts and souls of million of people across her Country ( Liberia) for her passion, dedication and impact driven works and activities especially to defending the rights of women and girls in that West African Nation.

Like many other women today, Margaret childhood days thirty seven years ago were not favorable as she had to witness  abuse, neglect along with her sibling while  her mother was abandoned by her father at an early age.

“My sister and I grew up seeing our father abuse our mother physically and emotionally, until he abandoned us altogether.

So, my mother had to do odd jobs to fend for us, and I ended up dropping out of school, becoming a teenage mother myself, trying to support her. In the end, the accumulation of this abuse took a toll on my mother until she eventually died. I come with such emotional baggage to this, which enables me to connect deeply with other victims of gender-based violence (GBV) and other related injustices,” she narrated.

With such physical and emotional experience, Margaret was not deter but rather muster the courage, saw her story as a great challenge to push forward noting that her resolve and  determination  to ensure that as many women as possible have better life options than her own mother was able to access.

In a drive to make a difference while working to live her dream, Margaret, pursue her Law Degree from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia and was  initially employed as a government Prosecutor with Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission.

During her stay at the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission as Government prosecutor, she explained;  “I interacted regularly with women who were abandoned by their husbands, those who were abused, and in them, I saw my mother – I knew that without help, they too would probably suffer her fate. So, I decided to reach out – to help them.”

Still thirsty to live her passion and dream respectively, Margaret resigned her well-paying job, and started offering pro-bono services for these women in distress.

In 2017, she started a social initiative; named and styled: “Her Voice Liberia”.

Under such umbrella, she embarked upon a  campaign for the defense of women’s rights.

Two years later, realizing the insufficient access to justice for especially Liberia’s women at the grassroots, she introduced,  Her Voice Legal Aid mobile clinic.

The Legal Aid Mobile clinic saw Margaret roll her sleeves and went from  towns and villages interacted with the people,  listen to women’s justice issues and was able to pursue justice for as many as she could.

The program like other programs and activities across the world was heavily affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

However, Women in distress would send signals and Her Voice Legal clinic would go to their rescue, including providing temporary shelter to women who were living with abusers and needed relocation.

Additionally,  They would also prosecute cases in courts which were open but inaccessible by ordinary people due to restrictions in movement.

Despite the clinic’s work taking up most of her time, Margaret was not bothered. In fact, she says, she was deriving fulfillment from her and the clinic’s efforts, because that is the role her mother would have wanted her to play”, she explained.

As a result of its impactful contributions both in rural and urban communities over the  period ,  Her voice Legal Aid Clinic successfully offered legal support to over 900 women in Liberia.

Moreover, the team has also expanded, and now has a total of six female volunteer lawyers who are offering services.

With support from the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) Legal Aid Clinic will in November of this year officially launch mobile legal booths at eight magisterial courts in rural Liberia.

Among other things, The booths will have a legal aid officer, a psychosocial worker/counsellor, and a lawyer that will work closely with prosecutors to make them more effective in prosecuting GBV cases and other human rights issues in the Country.

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