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 in the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School. She and her students work in partnership with social justice organizations on projects focusing primarily on gender justice and human rights advocacy. She has conducted human rights fieldwork in many countries, among them Botswana, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda and the United States.
The clinic has engaged in numerous projects under Professor 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, queer 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 a successful lawsuit challenging the forced HIV testing of sex workers; mobile legal aid clinics in rural communities; and global gender equality and human rights education campaigns.
Professor Mgbako 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. Her academic articles have appeared or are forthcoming in the Georgetown Journal of International Law, Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, and the Yale Journal of International Affairs, among others. Her writing for popular audiences has appeared in the New York Times International Edition, the Guardian and HuffPost.
Professor 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, she 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.
Professor 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