International Courts and the African Woman Judge: Unveiled Narratives

Time and Place

4th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

International courts play an important role as arenas where judicial decisions can produce lasting effects on the lives of global citizens. The book International Courts and the African Woman Judge: Unveiled Narratives edited by WPSP Global Fellow Dr. Josephine Dawuni and The Honorable Akua Kuenyehia examines the often misunderstood, overlooked and underrated contributions of African women to the global discourse on feminism, global justice, international courts and international organizations.

Using legal narratives and in-depth exploration of seven women judges, the book debunks existing misconceived notions of the individual and personal agency of the African woman. This book launch event featured Dr. Josephine Dawuni, Nienke Grossman, Dr. Rachel Ellett, and Counselor Christiana Tah, and spoke to the inspirational stories of African women judges on international courts.

The panel discussion focused on the impact women judges can have on international courts, the barriers they face to take the bench, and the importance of diversity in the judiciary, not just in Africa, but all over the world.

Following the event, Minister Christiana Tah sat down with WPSP Director Gwen K. Young on the She is One podcast to discuss her experiences driving change in Liberia through her work in the judiciary system. Click here to listen to the podcast.


Key Quotes

Dr. Josephine Dawuni, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Howard University

"Why are we looking at African women judges? Why not the fact that she is a judge, she is qualified, she can do it. Legal Narratives help us understand their trajectory to the international bench."

"The data tells it all. The ICC has the highest number of women on any international court, particularly African women have had the highest representation on the international criminal court."

"After looking at the development [of women in domestic courts] the issue of women judges at the international level had not been explored despite women rising within the ranks of the judiciary on the continent of Africa."

Dr. Rachel Ellett, Associate Professor if Political Science, Beloit College

"It is well-documented that women lack access to the informal networks, the 'boys clubs' to access opportunity."

"We need to discuss the role of interest groups in supporting or opposing the elevation of women to the courts."

"Moving forward we need to look more at the informal rules and networks, especially looking at allies and what it means to be an ally."

Nienke Grossman, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law

"[Quoting Her Excellency Julia Sebutinde] Women bear a heavier burden as a result of conflict."

"[Quoting Her Excellency Julia Sebutinde] In a world where half of the population is female and the other half male, I would like to see 50% men and women on the world's international courts"

"The collection of narratives in this book elevates the discussion on the impact women can have on the bench at the international level."

Counselor Christiana Tah, Former Minister of Justice, Republic of Liberia

"We [women] want to participate, we want to be a part of the process."

"It's important to uplift African women, but it's not all about race, it's about uplifting all women."

"One of the things I always think about when discussing Africa and the judiciary is that you have to look at it as a dichotomy because of the history off colonization. How do you harmonize the two?"

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