I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
Did You Know? – Judiciary Edition
The Institute for African Women in Law has launched the Did You Know? series sharing the achievements of pioneer African women in law. In this collection, we feature a series of members of the Judiciary from Africa and the African diaspora. The series will be updated continuously with new entries. Read more in our Pioneer African Women in Law series here.
Did You Know? – Academia Edition
The Institute for African Women in Law has launched the Did You Know? series sharing the achievements of pioneer African women in law. In this collection, we feature a series of academics from Africa and the African diaspora. The series will be updated continuously with new entries. Read more in our Pioneer African Women in Law series here.
Did You Know? – Lawyers Edition
The Institute for African Women in Law has launched the Did You Know? series sharing the achievements of pioneer African women in law. In this collection, we feature a series of lawyers from Africa and the African diaspora. The series will be updated continuously with new entries. Read more in our Pioneer African Women in Law series here.
African Women Judges Celebrate the Confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
By: J. Jarpa Dawuni, Ph.D. Executive Director, IAWL The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) congratulates Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on her historic confirmation to the US Supreme Court – making her the first Black woman justice in its 233-year history! Dawuni and Kang have documented the growing representation of women as chief justices and presidents of constitutional courts across Africa. Dawuni and Masengu's research also argue that the appointment of women judges can be partially attributed to the role of key decision-makers who have the power to either champion these advancements, or block women from positions of power in the judiciary entirely. In the US context, Prof. Gbemende Johnson has provided detailed analyses of the lack of Black women judges on the Federal Bench. As part of the confirmation hearings, Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) – who was notably appointed as the first African American judge to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, provided testimony on behalf of the American Bar Association. Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), who is featured in IAWL’s African Women in Law Legacy Project interview series, delivered a comprehensive statement outlining the exceptional experience displayed by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson that deems her more than qualified for an appointment on the Supreme Court. Her statement, and those of many other decision-makers, played a key role in Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation. This momentous achievement by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is celebrated by Black women in the legal and judicial professions in the United States and across the African Diaspora. See Prof. J. Jarpa Dawuni's media interview with SABC: IAWL has compiled a collection of solidarity messages from African women judges celebrating Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation. At IAWL, we send our best wishes to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and wish her the best during her tenure as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Call for Fellows
The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) has three open positions for remote, unpaid fellowships with a one-year non-renewable commitment. All applicants must submit a maximum four-page double-spaced (1000 words) proposal for the work they intend to carry out during the fellowship and a resume highlighting relevant experience. In addition to the requirements identified by the specific fellowship, the proposal should include a discussion of why the applicant is applying for the fellowship, relevant skills, and the ways they will contribute to the vision of the Institute. Read the full Fellowship description here:
The Rise of African Women Chief Justices: A Missed Opportunity for South Africa?
By: Maame Efua Addadzi-Koom, Research and Innovation Lead, IAWL. On March 10, 2022, it was announced that President Ramaphosa had appointed Deputy Chief Justice, Justice Raymond Zondo, as the next Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa effective April 1, 2022. The announcement also mentioned that President Ramaphosa had nominated Justice Mandisa Maya, the only female Chief Justice nominee, for the position of Deputy Chief Justice after becoming vacant in April. Although she will have to be interviewed for the position. In September 2021, President Ramaphosa made a public invitation for Chief Justice nominees after Chief Justice Mogoeng retired. About 500 names were submitted out of which only four were shortlisted. Of the four shortlisted nominees, Justice Maya, President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, was the only woman. Not only that, she was also the first woman ever to be interviewed for the Chief Justice position in South Africa’s history. Since South Africa was yet to have a female Chief Justice, many women advocates believed that, with Justice Maya’s nomination, South Africa was finally going to chalk up its first. The March 10 announcement, therefore, left some women activists’ circles completely nonplussed. Did South Africa miss an opportunity? How long before such an opportunity presents itself again? Women in South Africa are more than men. Yet, the gender composition of South Africa’s judiciary does not reflect this demographic. As of 2021, 43% percent of all superior court judges in South Africa were women. The number of women judges in the top judicial ranks is lower. By the end of February 2022, only nine (31%) out of 29 leaders in the superior courts were women. Although women judges in South Africa have been appointed since 1994, it took almost two decades for them to be appointed to take up leadership positions within the judiciary. The first female judge president, Monica Leeuw, was appointed in 2012. Two years later in 2014, the second was appointed. Leadership is key to empowering women in all sectors of society including the judiciary. Women in judicial leadership will substantially contribute to judicial governance that is sensitive to the peculiar needs of women. Therefore, beyond achieving gender parity on the bench, equal representation of women in the judiciary’s leadership is essential and should be prioritized. In Africa, women chief justices and presidents of constitutional courts started emerging in the 1990s. Eighteen women chief justices and presidents of constitutional courts had been recorded on the continent between 1990 to 2014, most of which were firsts for women. Dawuni & Kang (2015) attribute five main factors to the rise of women judicial leaders in Africa: (a) the legal system of the country, (b) the selection method, (c) the commitment of gatekeepers, (d) the end of a major armed conflict and (e) regional diffusion. Of the five factors, the commitment of gatekeepers stood out as the most pressing in the recent Chief Justice appointment in South Africa. We believe that, had the gatekeepers, particularly the executive had the will and women’s representation in judicial leadership very high up on their agenda, the March 10 announcement would have turned out differently. In fact, during the Judicial Service Commission’s interview with Justice Maya, the Commission asked if South Africa was ready for a female chief justice to which she responded in the affirmative. She also emphasized during her interview: "I am not good because I am a woman, I’m just a good woman judge.” Even though the JSC recommended Justice Maya for the position, she was not appointed by the President. By this post, we are advocating for South Africa’s judicial leadership gatekeepers to show more commitment toward appointing women judges to the top ranks of the judiciary going forward. It seems that with Justice Zondo’s appointment, South Africa would have to wait a little longer to jump on the African women chief justices bandwagon. We extend our congratulations and best wishes to Justice Zondo on his appointment while we hope that his successor will be a woman. Because as Justice Maya said during her interview, “South Africa has always been ready to have a female Chief Justice” – a long overdue appointment.
Judge Ann Claire Williams: Championing advancement for so many
Judge Ann Claire Williams’ judicial career can be succinctly characterized by one word: advancement. This rings true to the remarkable strides she has made personally, and the impactful efforts she has been involved in to champion the advancement of others. Most notably, in 1999, she was the first African American person appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit – thus making her the third African American woman to serve on any federal circuit court. Following her retirement from judicial service in 2018, she set her sights to work full-time on promoting justice and advancing the rule of law in Africa. She has continued her work with judges and lawyers to lead training programs in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. On March 24 2022, she represented the American Bar Association and testified at the confirmation hearing of historic Supreme Court nominee, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. She delivered a comprehensive statement outlining the exceptional experience displayed by Judge Jackson that deems her more than qualified for an appointment on the Supreme Court. You may have also caught Judge Williams in conversation with pioneer women judges in IAWL’s African Women in Law Legacy Project. The series offers an opportunity for audiences to dive deeper into the early life experiences, careers, and legacies of African women judges in their own words as we build richer archives of the advancements they steer. Watch the series on our YouTube channel here:
Join our Global Database of African Women Experts in Law
The Institute for African Women in Law is compiling a Global Database of Women in law across Africa and the African Diaspora. Through this network, we are creating the Women Experts in Law Advancing Equality and Development ( WE LEAD). Who can join? Are you a woman lawyer? Are you a woman judge? Are you a legal academic? Do you have a law degree? You can join! Irrespective of your area of legal practice, IAWL has opportunities to expand your network and grow exponentially! We are seeking women experts with a proven record of excellence in law. Join us today! You will be glad you did. Benefits of joining the database: NETWORK: Be connected to other women in law across Africa and the African Diaspora CONSULT: Opportunities to be a consultant for IAWL and other major organizations. ADVANCE: Opportunities to advance your career through our specially curated professional development programs. EXPERT: Opportunities to utilize your expertise through our referral system. MENTOR: Benefit from our peer-to-peer mentoring system. LEVERAGE: Tap into our national and international contacts and networks and opportunities to increase your professional capacity.
IAWL Launches Women's Excellence in Law & Leadership Academy
The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL), in partnership with the German Development Cooperation-Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is launching the Women's Excellence in Law & Leadership Academy (WELLA) which curates discussions and power-chats with distinguished women in law across Africa and the Diaspora who provide training by sharing their experiences, strategies, and triumphs in their careers in law. The diversity of speakers and topics will explore contemporary issues, and provide innovative solutions and strategies for achieving excellence in law and leadership. Commenting on the upcoming series, Dr. J. Jarpa Dawuni, Executive Director of IAWL noted; I am very excited about the launch of the leadership academy, which will bring a diversity of trainers, speakers and change-makers to propel women in law to the next level of their careers. This launch is the beginning of bigger and impactful programs IAWL will be launching this year. Upcoming Schedule Looking for professional development opportunities? Join us for upcoming events!
International Day of Women Judges - Celebrating the Progress Towards Parity
PRESS RELEASE Washington, DC March 10, 2022 March 10 has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day of Women Judges based on Resolution A/Res/75/274 passed on April 26 2021. The groundwork for this historic resolution was laid at the 2020 High-level Meeting of the Global Judicial Integrity Network in Doha, Qatar. The rationale behind this resolution is to celebrate the strides women have made in reducing the gender gap in the judiciary, to highlight the challenges they encounter, and further chart new paths to attaining the goal of gender parity in the judiciary worldwide. Women, especially African women, came into the judicial scene to take up leadership roles later than their male counterparts due to years of exclusion and systemic bias. This has affected the quality of judicial decisions over the years as they have been robbed of the depth, perspectives, and insights of women. The journey of inclusion in Africa began with the likes of Stella Marke (née Thomas) called to the Nigerian bench as the first female Magistrate in 1943. Annie Jiagge (née Baeta) of Ghana (1953), Zaynab abd al-Razzaq of Morocco, (1960), Vera Duarte of Cape Verde (c. 1977) Fatimata Bazeye Salifou of Niger (1979) and Leonora van den Heever of South Africa (1979). Despite the comparatively recent emergence of African women in the judiciary, there is a surge in African women leaders in judiciaries across the continent. Although many national and international courts such as COMESA Court of Justice, ECOWAS Court of Justice, East African Court of Justice, and the International Court of Justice still struggle to achieve parity, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights achieved gender parity within twelve years of its existence. This feat is worth celebrating. It is also a reminder that the journey ahead is long as such we must not relent but forge forward to attain the much-needed parity. IAWL stands with women judges in Afghanistan who are being persecuted for being bold enough to sit in judgment over men and delivering justice to women. To the many who have lost their homes, family, jobs, money and live in constant fear, WE STAND WITH YOU and celebrate you for daring to challenge the status quo and break the bias. IAWL joins women judges worldwide in solidarity to celebrate them for their contributions to the rule of law, justice, and equity. We are rising in leadership! Watch our video celebrating African women judges from our Legacy Project We celebrate African women judges today, and every day! Launch of the Flagship report on women judges in Tanzania In the latest IAWL flagship report, "The Tanzanian Women Judges Association and the Feminization of the Judiciary," we present a synthesis of the state of women judges in Tanzania. Despite the challenges women judges face, they continue to provide important entry points for the law and promotion of justice for all citizens in Tanzania.
Press Release: International Women's Day
March 8, 2022 March 8, 2022 is International Women’s Day!!! A day dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements around the world, raising awareness on the challenges women face, and determining ways of achieving gender equality. This year’s celebration focuses on #breakingthebias. Women experience intersectional bias with respect to race, religion, sexual orientation, and (dis)ability. Women encounter hegemonic bias which legitimizes the dominance of men in the different spaces that women find themselves. Most work environments are hostile to women, negatively impacting their potential, retention, and progress. Women continue to face sexual harassment, microaggression, disparity in promotions, unequal wages, and other forms of discrimination. Women with marginalized identities and women of color are further subjected to racialized practices. Quite unsettling, for example, is the systemic racialized practices and norms within the United Nations – an institution founded on equality and spearheading the same worldwide. The Africa Report indicates that a survey conducted by United Nations People of African Descent (UN-PAD) revealed that 52% of 2,857 respondents had experienced some form of racism within the category of career development, exclusion, disrespect disproportionate sanctions, discrimination, and harassment. A report by the Institute for African Women in Law, Unveiling Subalternity: Women and the Legal Professions in Africa, highlighted some of the achievements of women across Africa in ascending to leadership positions in law firms, and the judiciary. The report also highlighted the challenges women in law continue to deal with, based largely on existing biases within legal institutions and the society generally. The Covid-19 pandemic also increased the caregiving work of women leading to heightened mental and physical health issues. Women need support at all levels to cope with the pandemic’s impact. We cannot ignore the impact of climate change and other environmental issues and how they affect women globally. IAWL stands in solidarity with UN Women who have dedicated this year’s International Women’s Day to achieving gender equality in the context of climate change, environmental sustainability, and disaster risk reduction. Women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men, therefore we salute the women and girls who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response in order to create a more sustainable future for everyone. Today, IAWL calls on all institutions and people to #breakthebias. #Breakingthebias within the shortest time possible requires concerted efforts from all. IAWL stands in solidarity with all women in law and all others as we work together to #breakthebias through a unified approach despite the diversity within the global communities of women.
Happy International Women's Day!
This year’s theme, “Break The Bias” calls for action to dismantle the biases that limit women globally from making further advances in society. IAWL celebrates African women in law who have broken, and continue to break, barriers as they push for a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive legal system. To commemorate this year's International Women's Day, we are releasing the first issue of the IAWL Magazine. This inaugural issue profiles 50 women in law from across Africa who are inspirational figures in their home countries and beyond. The 50 women in this selection have made monumental contributions to the legal field, and their impact will undoubtedly shape the future of the legal practice for years to come. Among many other African women in law, IAWL celebrates the legacy of Essi Matilda Forster — the first woman lawyer in Ghana. Today, we release a booklet that shares her life story as told by her daughter, Estelle Appiah (nèe Christian). We asked the IAWL team: What does your ideal world look like when we #BreakTheBias? INTRODUCING THE IAWL LEADERSHIP ACADEMY We are launching the IAWL Leadership Academy, which curates discussions and power-chats with distinguished women in law across Africa and the Diaspora who share their experiences, strategies and triumphs in their careers in law. Check our Events page for more details.