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Consultancy – Research expert to undertake study on access to justice and justice needs for rural women and persons with disabilities.

Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone)

  • Organization: IDLO - International Development Law Organization
  • Location: Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone)
  • Grade: Single Engagement Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
  • Closing Date: 2021-05-14

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Rural women and persons with disabilities specifically face large deficits in accessing justice in Sierra Leone. Women continue to face many barriers to the full enjoyment of their rights and the situation is further exacerbated for rural women. Many are subject to gender discrimination, violence, and economic dependence, and a large percentage of them cannot access basic services. Their perceived lack of experience and education, economic dependence, and sometimes lack of necessary documents make it more difficult for them to engage with the formal and informal justice sectors. Persons with disabilities are amongst the most vulnerable of all. They are unable to physically access justice and educational institutions and can rarely obtain public information, which severely limits their ability to participate in everyday life activities, resulting in serious human rights violations. 

A central feature of establishing the rule of law is the equality of all. Therefore, all persons regardless of their status in society should have the right to access to justice and the protection of their rights by the State. Equal access to the courts and other institutions of the State is crucial with the enforcement of rights. A thorough examination of access to justice and justice needs for rural women and marginalized groups is paramount.  Considering the commitment of the justice sector’s leadership for citizens’ access to justice and human rights as the principal framework for policy initiatives in the justice sector and for leaving no one behind, offering insights into the difficulties of rural communities and marginalized groups to access justice and to increase awareness of rights for justice-seekers is mandatory.

The United Nations Principles and Guidelines on the rule of law provide for equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law and that includes special measures to be taken to ensure meaningful access to justice for women and groups with special needs, including, but not limited to, persons with disabilities. Such measures should address the specific needs of those groups, including gender-sensitive and age-appropriate measures. 

The Government of Sierra Leone has reaffirmed its commitments to promoting equal access to justice for all, including members of these specific groups – rural women and persons with disabilities by promoting access to justice which is one of two sustainable development goals identified by Sierra Leone as drivers or accelerators for its attainment of Agenda 2030 to which Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan is intricately linked. Enabling access to justice encompasses a wide range of issues including fair, just, efficient laws, non-discriminatory and accountable services, processes, and outcomes for all, including those facing literacy, financial, social, and other disadvantages and eliminating barriers that inhibit understanding and exercise of rights. The government is taking necessary steps to ensure equal access to justice and that no one is left behind. 

IDLO, with the support of the Government of the Netherlands, is currently implementing a program that aims to advance Agenda 2030, focusing on the Rule of Law and Access to Justice (SDG 16). Within this Program, in Sierra Leone IDLO is implementing activities on Access to Justice that seek to increase awareness of rights for justice-seekers through programmatic interventions, including engagement with customary and informal justice systems, applying people-centered approaches. As part of the program interventions in Sierra Leone, IDLO is providing support to the Justice Sector Coordination Office (JSCO) to conduct a study on access to justice and justice needs for rural women and persons with disabilities. 


It is within this framework that IDLO and the JSCO seek to recruit a research expert to develop a detailed study on justice needs for rural women and persons with disabilities, measure the scope of services delivered by the State for these marginalized groups at various levels and establish parameters for justice service delivery that would increase their voices and access to justice and hold service providers accountable. The consultant will work under the supervision of the Coordinator of the Justice Sector Coordination Office and the IDLO Regional Program Manager Africa and in coordination with the IDLO Program Coordinator Africa and/or any other reporting line as may be determined by the JSCO and IDLO. The justice needs survey will provide understanding for policy planners and advocates of access to justice on the needs of rural women and persons with disabilities and the diversity of legal problems. 

The assessment will include:

  • Identifying key barriers faced by rural women and persons with disabilities accessing legal protection mechanisms and claiming their rights;
  • Gathering perspectives, attitudes, and experiences of justice seekers interacting with formal and informal justice mechanisms; 
  • Identifying unfavorable social and cultural norms that hinder conditions for rural women and persons with disabilities accessing legal protection mechanisms and claiming their rights;
  • Gauging the knowledge and skills of both formal and informal justice actors including, but not limited to, judges, lawyers, paramount chiefs, paralegals, courtroom staff, etc., on the justice needs of rural women and persons with disabilities; 
  • Identifying the link between policy-level interventions and operational outcomes in order to have an impact on the lives of the target group;
  • Establishing credible data that will form a baseline for future measurement of progress attained; and
  • Mapping out areas for improvement in accessing justice for those with specific needs.

Within this framework, the consultant will be responsible to undertake the following:

  • Develop and submit an inception report outlining the understanding of these terms of reference, a proposed plan of action and workplan indicating clear milestones and timelines and the research instruments; 
  • Develop and submit the research methodology and research instruments; 
  • Identify, train and coordinate data collection personnel, and / or identify and coordinate an external data collection capacity; 
  • Conduct literature review and stakeholders’ meetings and consultations with rural women, persons with disabilities, internal and external justice sector stakeholders to identify justice needs and gaps; 
  • Facilitate data collection, collation and analysis through provincial tours, coordination and engagements; 
  • Develop and submit a draft a report of the survey including a detailed analysis of the data collected and findings;  
  • Facilitate a validation forum to review and validate the draft a report of the survey;
  • Submit the final version of justice needs survey report integrating findings from all methods; and
  • Final report synthesizing all the interventions captured during the assignment. 


Key deliverables and timeframe for the assignment are as follow: 



Submission of work plan and inception report

May 21, 2021

Submission of the research methodology and research instruments

May 28, 2021

Literature review, participation, and presentation in consultative meetings and events with relevant stakeholders and data collection

June 25, 2021

Submission and approval of the first draft of the justice needs survey report

July 10, 2021

Participation and presentation of the draft justice needs survey report in the validation forum

July 20, 2021

Final justice needs survey report

July 30, 2021




  • An advanced degree (Masters or Equivalent) in a relevant field of study (social sciences or law with a focus on legal assisting) or other relevant field from a recognized university is required. A Ph.D. is desirable. 

Work Experience

  • Minimum of seven years of relevant national/international working experience in the areas of rule of law or governance;  
  • Proven experience in developing studies, assessments, surveys, needs assessments, technical support on legislative reform and/or development and delivery of training modules for justice professionals; 
  • Experience in conducting research with vulnerable groups, particularly women and persons with disabilities; experience of working on women’s rights and gender equality programming is desirable;
  • Proven experience in conducting applied research, preferably using a mix of mutually reinforcing qualitative and quantitative research techniques; 
  • Broad knowledge and understanding of the justice sector in Sierra Leone at policy, planning, and/or implementation levels; 
  • Experience in working with legal experts and in a diverse environment and produce high-quality work. Experience working in a legal pluralist setting, engaging with formal justice sector institutions and informal justice mechanisms is a significant advantage. 


  • Fluency in written and spoken English is required. Fluency in Kriol and other local languages a significant asset. 

Specific Technical & Behavioral Competencies

  • Excellent research, writing, strong technical drafting and editing skills in English with attention to detail, especially when working under pressure
  • Strong research and analytical skills, both qualitative and quantitative
  • Ability to design and conduct surveys, interviews and focus group discussions
  • Ability to work under limited supervision with a high degree of accuracy and attention to quality and detail in a busy and complex environment
  • Proven ability to see through tasks set and deliver results
  • Strong coordination, communication, and organization skills; proven ability to lead and work as part of a team
  • Keen sense of ethics, integrity, and commitment to IDLO's mandate


For this consultancy, candidates should prove their ability to work and travel in Sierra Leone. The consultant will be based in Freetown and will be required to travel to other regions in the country to conduct consultations with key stakeholders, considering COVID-19 restrictions and other possible external risk factors. The estimated start date for the assignment is May 14, 2021

Please note that this is a local consultancy, hence it is open to Sierra Leone nationals only. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Interested qualified applicants are invited to submit their applications that should also include an expression of interest that should be accompanied by a statement of their methodology for the assignment, a maximum of 5 pages. Deliverables should be submitted according to the timeframe enclosed in this Vacancy Announcement, and the consultancy fee will be paid out on a deliverable’s basis. IDLO is an Equal Opportunity Employer and values diversity in all areas of its operations. We welcome and encourage diverse applications. 


The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by the Contractor assigned to this work. This is not an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities.

The Director-General of IDLO reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities or even to cancel the recruitment to meet business and organizational needs as necessary.



We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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