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Ms. JD, a grassroots organization committed to advancing women in the legal profession, is looking beyond the borders of the United States. The group has launched a Global Education Fund that is intended to help women in developing countries become lawyers. The inaugural recipients of the grant are two Ugandan women who will study law at Makerere University in Kampala — a pursuit that would be out of reach without financial backing. “We’ve had this idea kicking around for a long time,” said Ms. JD Executive Director Jessie Kornberg. “A lot of what makes Ms. JD work at home is a real sense of solidarity: We’re all in this together. That extends beyond borders. We derive our strength and energy from a sense of collaboration and mutual support. This is in keeping in the same vein of women helping women.” Ms. JD will spend about $5,000 a year for five years of undergraduate and law training for recipients Joaninne Nanyange and Monica Athieno. The women were selected for the grant by the Gender Mainstreaming Division at Makerere University based on their financial need and academic credentials. A mere 3 percent of the adult women in Uganda have access to higher education and 45 percent have never received any schooling, according to Ms. JD. Nanyange intends to use her law degree to assist women and children as a human rights lawyer. She paid her own way through elementary and secondary schools despite the death of her mother and abandonment of her and four younger siblings by her father. Athieno aspires to become a judge and help develop the rule of law in Uganda. She sold vegetables at a local market to pay for her secondary school education. “In Uganda today, girls and [widows] are faced with challenges from the relatives of a deceased father or husband, they threaten to take the few assets left,” Athieno told Ms. JD. “If widows had knowledge about where to seek refuge, they would not be abused in this way.” Ms. JD initially considered supporting women’s education in Ghana, but settled on Uganda for this round of funding because the Gender Mainstreaming Division at Makerere University could administer the grant, Kornberg said. The logistics of the program proved far more complicated that initially expected due to tax issues and State Department restrictions on sending money overseas. Ms. JD is in the process of raising the $25,000 needed to pay for Nanyange and Athieno’s education. The organization plans events in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles. Ms. JD hopes to name more Global Fund recipients, possibly as early as next academic semester. Ms. JD was founded in 2006 by law students from 12 different schools, and conducts research, offers scholarships and hosts a number of online resources for women in the profession. “We are open to all suggestions from anyone who wants to help or get involved,” Kornberg said. “We think this is just the beginning for the Global Education Fund.”

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