For too long, the law has served as a tool of oppression against women and girls, who continue to face inequality throughout the world.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Waging Justice for Women (WJW) initiative is working to change this, by transforming the law from a tool of oppression into a driver of change. Working hand in hand with grassroots organizations, we use legal empowerment, strategic litigation and public advocacy to challenge injustice against women and girls.

We are proud to launch the second year of CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship, a new effort to empower the next generation of feminist lawyers to advance rights for women & girls in their communities.

South African lawyer and CFJ consultant Melene Rossouw talks to survivors of gender-based violence.

CFJ and our partner organizations are offering one-year, fully funded fellowships to a class of ten early-career women lawyers in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program is to equip African gender justice champions with the tools they need to challenge inequality through the courts. These organizations partner with WJW on key issues such as removing legal barriers to girls’ education, combatting child marriage, promoting accountability for gender-based violence, and combatting economic discrimination and criminalization based on gender stereotypes.

Having a fully funded lawyer for a year increases the ability of these organizations to deliver access to justice for women and girls. CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program also provides Fellows with mentorship, training, and access to leading lawyers, judges, activists, and academics from across Africa and around the world. We will look to expand the number and geographical scope of the Fellowship in future years.

Each Waging Justice for Women Fellow spends the year embedded with one of ten leading human rights and legal advocacy organizations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Two paralegals providing legal advice to a woman in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Program Overview

CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program is administered in partnership with the Legal Empowerment Fund at the Fund for Global Human Rights.

The Fellowship offers an annual salary and an opportunity to work with leading human rights organizations on gender justice. Fellows support at least one strategic litigation case designed to advance women and girls’ rights in national, regional or international courts or UN mechanisms. Fellows should expect to be based in the home country of their host organization and have the right to work in that country.

Paralegals providing legal advice to a woman in Freetown, Sierra Leone. AdvocAid/Nana Kofi Acquah
A girl raises her hand during a workshop with others

The ten host organizations partnering with CFJ on the Fellowship Program in 2025 are:

Fellows also take part in a mentorship & training program, which includes a monthly online curriculum & at least one in-person convening.

These programs expose Fellows to a diverse array of women leaders as well as strong peer support networks, which provide added support and inspiration as they pursue public interest work to advance the rights of women, girls, and marginalized communities. CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program also organizes events with leading women lawyers and judges focused on promoting women in leadership, celebrating the contributions of Africa’s leading women in law, and facilitating discussions about how to accelerate progress on gender justice and equality. We also host events and trainings with peer institutions, including the Obama Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, to connect our respective Fellows and enable emerging African leaders from different fields to come together to devise innovative solutions to the issues facing women and girls.

Participants in a workshop listen to the speaker

Fellowship Qualifications

A qualifying law degree

Practice Certificate:

  • Admitted to practice as a lawyer in at least one of the countries of the host organizations
    • Fellows must be admitted to practice as a lawyer in the respective country of their host organization of choice

Work experience:

  • At least two years of post-qualification experience in the legal field. (As this fellowship is for early-career women lawyers, we will be less likely to consider women with more than five years of legal experience post-qualification)
  • Experience in women’s rights and working in human rights organizations preferred

Citizenship or work authorization:

  • In either Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, or Liberia
    • Costs relating to international relocation and acquiring work authorization cannot be supported


  • Experience working with survivors and/or impacted communities
  • Experience integrating gender and child-sensitive perspectives into substantive work
  • Interest in gender equality and women and girl’s rights
  • Commitment to the mission and goals of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and relevant host organizations
  • A demonstrated ability to conduct complex legal analysis and fact-finding
  • Excellent research, writing and verbal communication skills
  • Self-starter with excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice and human rights and creativity in crafting strategies to advance justice in our priority areas
  • Willingness to travel
  • Fluency in English required; proficiency in other working languages relevant to the countries of host organizations preferred

Fellowships will be full-time, one-year opportunities, running from January 2025 – December 2025.

The Fellowship is in-person and Fellows will be based with their host organizations. Hybrid working may be accommodated by the host organizations on a case-by-case basis.

As Fellows will be placed across Africa, most of the mentorship, peer networking, and training elements of the program will occur online. However, CFJ does plan to organize an in-person convening of the cohort at least once during the Fellowship year.

This will depend on the needs of individual host organizations, but Fellows should expect to travel occasionally within the country and region to attend Fellowship program events or assist with the legal work of their host organizations.

An ideal candidate for CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program will be an African woman lawyer who is accredited to practice law in the country of the host organization of choice and who is early in their career (less than five years of professional experience, post-accreditation). Please see the application for additional qualification criteria.

Fellows will be embedded with a specific host organization for the entire year and will support that host organization’s litigation and legal advocacy portfolios relating to women’s rights.

While CFJ will try and accommodate preferences for choice of host organizations, where that is not possible Fellows may be matched based on their citizenship, residency or work authorization in a particular geographical location, as well as their admission to practice law in that location.

CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program will provide Fellows with the equivalent in local currency of a $25,000 USD gross annual salary. Additional travel or work expenses may be covered at the discretion of CFJ and/or the host organization.

There is no fee to apply for CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program.

Applications for the 2025 class of CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program open on Monday, July 15 2024 and will remain open until Sunday, August 4 2024 at 11pm SAST. After that deadline, CFJ will screen applications in conjunction with partner organizations, and shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews in September. Offers for the 2025 class of Fellows will be made by November. Those selected for a Fellowship should expect to begin in January 2025.

Contact Us

If you have any additional questions or have technical issues arise in completing the application, please email [email protected]

Tamika Thumbiran, Willietta Hughes, Brenda Khwale