Chi Adanna Mgbako
Research and Teaching Areas
Human Rights Advocacy; Gender Justice; Sex Workers’ Rights
Chi Adanna Mgbako is clinical professor of law and director of the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School. She and her students work in partnership with social justice organizations on projects focusing on gender justice, sex workers’ rights, and anti-carceral human rights advocacy. She has conducted human rights fieldwork in many countries, among them Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States.
The clinic has engaged in numerous projects under Mgbako's direction; for example, petitions to United Nations human rights bodies documenting abuses against African sex workers and arbitrarily detained prisoners; human rights trainings on women and HIV/AIDS, LGBT refugee rights, and female genital cutting; reports on police abuse of marginalized communities, employment discrimination against transgender people, and access to safe abortion; legal research for lawsuits challenging the forced HIV testing of sex workers; mobile legal aid clinics in rural communities; and global gender equality and human rights education campaigns.
Her publications have appeared in both academic journals and the popular press, including the Harvard Human Rights Journal, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Law, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, The New York Times International Edition, The Guardian, and HuffPost. She is the author of To Live Freely in This World: Sex Worker Activism in Africa (New York University Press 2016), which was profiled by BBC News Focus on Africa and The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage political blog.
Mgbako earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she received the Gary Bellow Public Service Award, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Columbia University. Following law school, Mgbako served as the Harvard Henigson Human Rights Fellow in the West Africa Project of the International Crisis Group, where she focused on justice sector reform in Liberia and political reform in Nigeria, and as the Crowley Fellow in International Human Rights at Fordham Law School, where she co-produced a documentary on the feminization of HIV/AIDS in Malawi.
Mgbako has been honored as a New York Law Journal Rising Star, National Law Journal Top 40 Lawyer of Color Under 40, Fordham Law School’s Public Interest Faculty Member of the Year, and a recipient of the Police Reform Organizing Project’s Citizen of the City Award. In 2017, she received the Association of American Law Schools’ M. Shanara Gilbert Award, one of the highest honors in clinical legal education.
- Harvard Law School, JD, 2005
- Columbia University, BA, magna cum laude, 2001