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Allen & Overy team helps make ground-breaking policy change in Tanzania

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Allen & Overy has provided pro bono support for the Center for Reproductive Rights in a case against the United Republic of Tanzania, which saw an announcement to end their discriminatory policy that barred pregnant girls and adolescent mothers from attending school.

For many years, the Tanzanian government has forced public schoolgirls to undergo pregnancy tests and has then permanently expelled these girls if they were pregnant. In 2019, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CfRR), with pro bono support from Allen & Overy lawyers Elaine Johnston, Puja Patel and the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), filed a complaint before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) against the government of Tanzania challenging this discriminatory policy.

CfRR is a global NGO that uses the power of law to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights around the world. Working with them we represented six Tanzanian school girls who were expelled from school for being pregnant. The lawsuit accused the government of Tanzania of committing human rights and gender equality violations by keeping the discriminatory policies in place.

In December 2021, just days after CfRR and LHRC argued their case before ACERWC, Tanzania’s Minster of Education announced that it would be ending its discriminatory policy and will now allow pregnant schoolgirls to continue their education after giving birth.

Commenting on this win Elaine Johnston, partner said:

“Seeing the Tanzanian government overturn this discriminatory policy for schools girls is a great triumph. Education especially for girls is extremely important for reducing inequality and works to improve a country’s social and economic wellbeing.

“Many countries all over the world still have similar discriminatory policies in place and we hope that this change will encourage other nations to follow suit.”

This work was part of our longstanding relationship with CfRR. Read more about our pro bono work to tackle sexual and gender-based violence.

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