Not long ago there were few African women entering the field of law. That is now changing. In fact, there are many African women lawyers who are making a difference in the lives of many people through their work. Here are just a few of the strong African women making an impact and providing fantastic role models for all young women:
Unity Dow, Botswana
Unity has a long history of helping disadvantaged people. In 1991 she helped found a school that continues to be one of the leading primary schools in Botswana. She has long been an advocate for equal rights for women in Africa. This led to women of Botswana being able to claim their children as citizens even if the father was a foreign national. She also helped found the nonprofit Aids Action Trust in 1991, which works towards improving education and treatment in Botswana.
Jennifer Douglas Atiku
Jennifer Douglas recently was called to the bar, but before that she founded the Gede Foundation. Her foundation provides clinical services, education, and support that go towards treating and eradicating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in areas that do not have good services and funding. There is no doubt that her law degree will be used to advocate for the rights and improved living situations of disadvantaged people suffering from the HIV epidemic.
Myma Belo-Osagie, Nigeria
Myma has dedicated herself to Nigerian petroleum regulations and environmental law. Her role is critical in an area that in the past has been exploited for profit by foreign interests that hold little regard for the well-being and health of those that live in Nigeria. She is a partner and manager at a leading law firm specializing in telecommunications, oil, and gas.
Mentors and colleagues
All of the women listed above provide great role models and mentors for women all over the world. It is important that women like these help mentor the next generation so that there are always strong women working for a better world. The Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa Fellowship Program offers programs to help encourage young African women to pursue a career in law and human rights in their homeland. The program allows these women to interact in Washington D.C. with those partaking in the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program. This allows those participating to network and discuss key issues and gain skills they can utilize for the rest of their careers.
Importance of advocacy and representation
Strong female lawyers can help more people be comfortable seeking the representation they deserve. In Africa a woman may not be comfortable going to a male lawyer or feel completely open with him. Female lawyers provide representation for these women and children so that they have a better chance at equal and fair treatment in cases where they might not be receive fair treatment due to ingrained cultural roles. Together they are working with enlightened men and women who believe everyone deserves the chance to be treated with compassion and respect.