Tropics Woman: Justice Unity Dow, first female High Court Judge in Botswana12 nov. 2011
Unity Dow (b.April 23, 1959), is the first woman to be appointed a high court judge in Botswana.
Human Rights activist and lawyer, Unity Dow , appointed as Botswana's first female judge of the High Court in January 1998, considers that in writing novels she is ‘reclaiming the voice' to speak out on human rights and women's issues. Before her appointment as a High Court Judge, she was able to win important advances in laws pertaining to child support, rape and married women's property rights. Her writings which strongly express women's struggles for equality and justice in Botswana , are based on her own immediate experiences of working in these areas. She established a women's centre in her home village and co-founded the Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Project. She is also a member of International Women's Rights Watch, an advocacy organization and became renowned for what is known as the Citizenship Case.
December 2006, she was one of three Justices who served on a panel that decided the Bushmen of Kalahari were free to return to their ancestral land to continue their hunting traditions. She has been a criminal prosecutor, a law partner in criminal defense counsel. She has worked in collaboration with international human rights organizations. Among these are: The Urban Morgan Institute of Human Rights, International Association of Women Judges, International Women's Rights Action Watch, Amnesty International, UNICEF and Africa Legal Aid
Her first novel Far and Beyon' describes a family in a rural village in modern-day Botswana struggling to come to terms with the contradictions between traditional and western values, gender conflicts, poverty and the crisis of the Aids pandemic. While this is not an autobiographical narrative, many of the events coincide with Dow's experiences of life in Botswana.
The Screaming of the Innocent , is described thus by Elinor Sisulu: “Unity Dow courageously voyages into uncharted waters in this gripping tale of ritual murder in contemporary Botswana. Strong female protagonists wage battle against the hypocrisy and evil of male abuse as the story moves inexorably towards its horrifying climax.”
Unity Dow’s most recent novel, Juggling Truths, reads like a childhood memoir, blessed despite its contradictions and the juggling of truths between traditional African beliefs and Western thought. Veronica Sen of Canberra Times writes, “Frank, vibrant and ironic, Juggling Truths, given its setting in the 1990s, is disturbing to say the least’.