2021 PILnet Pro Bono Publico Winner: ATLAS Women: Acting Together: Law, Advice, Support

October 20, 2021 – The PILnet Pro Bono Publico Award recognizes legal professionals with an extraordinary, passionate, and long-standing commitment to service for the public good. For 2021, PILnet is thrilled to honor ATLAS Women in recognition of the collective efforts of its members in response to the crisis in Afghanistan. 

Established in 2012, ATLAS Women is an active global community of more than 8,000 female-identifying lawyers, activists, and jurists with expertise in various facets of public international law. The network brings women together from diverse jurisdictions around the world in a dynamic and supportive community designed to create and increase collaborative opportunities. 

While their core work mainly focuses on supporting the careers of women in international law, ATLAS Women moved quickly to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Many ATLAS members had worked in Afghanistan and had friends and colleagues who were put in harm’s way after the withdrawal of international military, diplomatic, and NGO presence. They created an Afghanistan subgroup of 455 women that connected lawyers within the network in various jurisdictions and with diverse expertise with the aim to share information and consolidate resources to better understand legal pathways available for evacuation and resettlement, and to explore every leverage and opportunity to improve protections for Afghan people at-risk. The network also built on its transnational feminist solidarity network and mobilized regional advocacy groups to petition for border and immigration justice.  ATLAS Women calls for urgent action from the international community, to establish a humanitarian corridor and to act swiftly and clearly to ensure the protection of those most in danger. 

Additionally, as the need for providing long-term and in-depth legal aid to uprooted Afghans became clear, members of the group worked to develop structures that scaled coordination of legal assistance provision to people at risk. They developed a roster of immigration pro bono lawyers across jurisdictions, conducted legal needs assessments, received referrals from grassroots local activists, raised funds for Humanitarian Parole applications, and supported representation in migration, asylum, and resettlement in more than 20 countries. 

PILnet congratulates the women of ATLAS for their extraordinary work, many of whom worked round the clock in their personal capacity, which is an excellent example of how powerful lawyers can be when working collaboratively. 



Contact: Toby Greenfield, PILnet 

Email: [email protected]