One out of seven workers in India’s formal economy is a tea plantation worker, of which, more than 50 per cent are women. Many of India’s tea plantation workers are located in the state of Assam, and these workers remain isolated from mainstream society, both physically and in terms of economic development. Nazdeek is a legal empowerment organization that is increasing access to justice, government programs, legal services and training for tea garden workers in Assam.
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The Hard to Reach
Tea plantation workers (over 50 per cent are women) located in Assam, India.
Nazdeek has designed systems to deliver access to justice for some of India’s most marginalized populations in Assam and Delhi. Three features were crucial to their success:
- Nazdeek not only makes direct efforts to ensure their paralegals are embedded within the communities they work in but they also make sure the organization as a whole is embedded within the community.
- The organization’s success can be associated with strategies that are principled (they seek to achieve a clear goal) but malleable (they are modified to be adapted to different contexts).
- Nazdeek does not conceive of access to justice as a rigid and predefined category. Their efforts to explore ways of seeking redress for rights violations go beyond court and legal proceedings. This broad vision is a key feature of their success as an access-to-justice organization.
This research was made possible through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Ralph and
Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. We express our gratitude and appreciation to the Nazdeek executive team, who took several hours of their time to connect us with their staff, volunteers, partners and other local experts. We thank fellow Reach researcher Adrien Blanchard, who contributed to a significant portion of the research process that led to the production of this report. We also sincerely thank Professor Mariana Prado for her countless hours of mentorship and guidance.
This research was vetted and received approval from the Ethics Review Board at the University of Toronto. Research was conducted remote during the COVID-19 pandemic.