9th Annual Public Interest Law Gathering
The public interest law gathering (PILG) started in 2011 as an annual event held in Johannesburg, South Africa bringing together public interest legal practitioners and organisations, law students, paralegals, social movement leaders and legal academics with the aim of serving as a focal point for professionals in the field to share and develop knowledge. Focussing on public interest litigation, the gathering is a collaborative knowledge-sharing exercise, as well as an opportunity to promote networking in the public interest community. We intend to facilitate greater collaboration within human rights and public interest litigation oriented organisations and to increase the skills of persons working in such organisations.
In recent years the PILG has also become a focal point for discussions related to transformation of the sector. In particular young black practitioners have called for more representation within public interest leadership. In 2016 the Black Workers Forum was launched following calls for transformation at the PILG. In 2018, following a number of public disclosures of sexual harassment within prominent public interest organisations, there was a day-long women-only session on sexual harassment, experiences of women in the sector, and building strategies and coalitions to combat the problem.
The challenges within the public interest sector have served as a stark reminder that the sector is not immune to the many social challenges within broader society. We therefore have a responsibility to address difficult issues of abuse of power, sexual harassment, bullying and other behaviours that are antithetical to the common goals of the sector of using the law to promote human rights and social justice. The PILG offers a unique opportunity for the sector to come together to develop solutions that are reflective the kind of society we strive for in our daily work.
Against this background, this year’s the PILG will build on previous discussions of transformation with a focus on black women in leadership positions, the role of donors in promoting and supporting transformation efforts in the sector, and linking these issues to building capacity of young attorneys and advocates.