AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION
Human Rights Lawyer
Why did you decide to study law?
I always thought that law was a good way to make a positive change. It was important to me to change the laws that are clearly an affront to human rights and use the others to protect and promote human rights. I recognised this as a way to empower myself and others and I have never looked back.
What is your proudest professional moment thus far?
I’d replace “pride” with “gratitude.” It’s a privilege to be a human rights lawyer. Working on precedent-setting cases in pursuit of accountability for grave crimes is life-affirming. Every time I make a positive impact in someone’s life, every time I take the opportunity to “smash the patriarchy” and lift the African women's voice, I feel tremendous gratitude.
Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?
I would have started looking for opportunities to mentor and uplift other women earlier. It is something I am actively engaged in now but I could have started earlier. No matter what phase of your career you always have something to share that will help the next woman.
Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.
The legal profession, particularly at the international level, is still dominated by white men and as a woman of colour you have to work twice as hard for the same recognition as your white male colleague. Also fighting the erroneous notion that there is only one seat for a woman at the proverbial table is an ongoing struggle.
What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?
Find allies and help each other! I have found this incredibly helpful and have developed lasting bonds with like minded people. Never give up- it is cliché but it is true. An unrelenting belief in who I am, and what I am capable of has been immensely valuable. Work hard- you will always be prepared for whatever comes your way and it will make it very difficult for detractors to second-guess you and the quality of your work.