Chi Adanna Mgbako
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 primarily on gender equity and anti-carceral human rights advocacy. She has conducted human rights fieldwork in Botswana, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States.
The clinic has engaged in many projects under Mgbako’s leadership, including, for example: petitions to United Nations human rights bodies documenting abuses against African sex workers and people in prison; 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 public interest lawsuits challenging the forced HIV testing of sex workers and championing marriage equality; mobile legal aid clinics in rural communities; and global gender equality education campaigns.
Mgbako is the author of To Live Freely in This World: Sex Worker Activism in Africa (New York University Press). Her scholarship has appeared in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, Georgetown Journal of International Law, Harvard Human Rights Journal, and the Yale Journal of International Affairs, among other publications. Her writing for the popular press and scholar-activism have been featured in the New York Times International Edition, BBC News Focus on Africa, HuffPost, the Guardian, and the Washington Post: Monkey Cage.
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 advocated for community-based models of justice 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 women and 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. She is also a recipient of 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
- Reviewed in Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work, African Affairs, DiGeST: Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies, Feminist Collections, Feminist Review, Human Rights Review, Human Rights Quarterly, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Tits and Sass.
Articles, Book Chapters and Reviews, and Policy Reports
Anti-Carceral Human Rights Advocacy, 26 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change 2 (with Johnson et al) (2023)
Sex Work/Prostitution in Africa, essay solicited for Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (2019) & forthcoming in Oxford Encyclopedia of African Women’s History, Oxford University Press, Hodgson et al, eds. (2020)
Engaging Legal Dualism: Paralegal Organizations and Customary Law in Sierra Leone and Liberia in The Future of African Customary Law, Cambridge University Press, Fenrich et al, eds. (with Kristina Scurry Baehr) (2011)
Nigeria's Faltering Federal Experiment, International Crisis Group (2006)
Liberia: Resurrecting the Justice System, International Crisis Group (2006)
Front Line Rwanda: Disappearances, Arrests, Threats, Intimidation and Co-option of Human Rights Defenders 2001 - 2004, Frontline, the International Foundation for the
Protection of Human Rights Defenders (with Toy-Cronin and Waldorf) (2005)
Women’s Rights and the Carceral State
Leitner Human Rights Clinic Students Present Gendered-Approach Inputs to UNHCR
Leitner Human Rights Clinic Partners with Amnesty International Japan
Chi Adanna Mgbako Receives Prestigious Clinical Teaching Award
Closing the Gap
‘Sex Worker Activism Has Exploded Throughout Africa,’ and This New Book Explores How
The Global Labor Rights Movement You’ve Likely Never Heard Of
Amnesty International Calls For An End To The ‘Nordic Model’ Of Criminalizing Sex Workers
African sex workers demand their rights
Launching a Book, Helping a Workers’ Movement
Following Trips to Africa, Asia, a New Legal Perspective
To Live Freely in This World
Working with Dignity
Chi Mgbako Named 2015 Rising Star