The secretariat of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor will produce a series on 'Market Forces' - videos produced in three to five urban centers in developing countries - and organize broad dissemination of the series through internet, radio and television. Each segment will be built around the visit of a global political leader (i.e., a member of the Commission) to a community where market venders are fighting for the right to do business legally, and to gain secure rights to the property where they do business. Where possible, the video segments will present scenarios for solutions to this problem. We will also aim to involve local political leaders in these visits, to draw them into the process and to give market venders an opportunity to open negotiations and dialogue with their local and national political leaders.
In order to ensure that the stories are viewed/heard by a wide range of audiences - including policymakers and development experts who might be in a position to contribute to the legal empowerment of urban entrepreneurs - the Legal Empowerment Secretariat will work with a wide range of global media outlets, including radio, television and internet.
The majority of the world's three billion poor live their lives outside the rule of law, without the basic legal protection that recognizes their homes, assets and hard work. If they are micro entrepreneurs, or own an informal business, they cannot access the legal business protections that entrepreneurs in the developed world take for granted - they are locked out of economic opportunity in their own countries and in the global marketplace.
The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor is the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between exclusion, poverty and the law. Co-chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, the Commission is made up of global policymakers with recognized experience in planning and implementing complex reform processes; in early 2008 it will deliver a final report with recommendations for policies that can help empower people who lack legal rights.
The Commission is working with local partner organizations in order to ground its work in the practical challenges faced by people living and working in informal settlements in developing countries. Slum Dwellers International has linked the Commission to markets in Nairobi and New Delhi where market venders have lobbied government for legal rights. The grassroots networks of the Huairou Commission have hosted 'grassroots academies' on legal empowerment in Uganda, Kenya, Indonesia and Guatemala.
The secretariat of the Commission partnered with Slum Dwellers International/Pamoja Trust to organize the production of a video when Co-Chair Albright visited the Toi Market in Kibera, Nairobi in November 2006. A second video was produced in New Delhi with local activist Madhu Kishwar, which highlights her successful campaign to establish a legally licensed market, and the effect this has had on the market venders.
The Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor is seeking direct funding for production of the Market Forces video series and the Legal Empowerment debate. The Commission is also seeking to work with media organizations and distribution networks, as well as NGOs or other organizations who wish to propose stories/cases for Market Forces.