AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION
Jane Frances Abodo
Director of Public Prosecutions, Uganda.
Why did you decide to study law?
I attended most of my education in the country side only coming to the capital city for my advanced level education. At the time there was no career guidance of any kind, and coupled with my humble background and upbringing in one of the poorest regions in the country, I never really dreamt big. So I never even thought of being a lawyer. I applied for a course in librarianship, when results came I had performed very well and I was immediately offered law. I have never looked back, I have just kept on walking!
What is your proudest professional moment thus far?
In April 2020 I was appointed the first female Director of Public Prosecutions in Uganda. My journey has been a dream come true, and it took sweat, determination and hard work and I am a strong believer that you succeed when you strive to give that extra effort!
Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?
When I was head of the Anti-Corruption department at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, I took a very complex case to court. For a full year we could not proceed with the case. The court dismissed it and we went back to the drawing board and made out four cases out of it. We prosecuted three successfully and one is still pending in court.
Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.
* I was appointed a Judge in March 2018 and in April 2020 I was appointed the Director of Public Prosecutions. When I started work at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1999, I had a very young family and I had to juggle family and professional commitments, which was very tough, because then you have the same work schedules and time allotted to particular tasks with male counterparts. So the work life balance took a toll on me, however, I became more determined and resilient to succeed and worked even harder. When I joined the bench as a high court in 2018, I noted the glaring gender inequality, the female judges do not have equal access to senior positions, and they are severely under represented at higher levels. I made a resolution that I was going to work together with my colleagues to create an unbiased work culture.
What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?
Women are capable of anything in a given environment, it only takes hard work and focus. The world is now coming to the realization that women are better at what they do. To be a lawyer calls for hard work, integrity, compassion, treating your clients with a human face and this just seems to fit women! Women make equally excellent lawyers. I encourage all the young women lawyers out there that all it takes is hard work, focus and determination and they can realize their dreams and together we can change the world to be a better place where the rule of law is respected.