For too long, the law has served as a tool of oppression against women and girls, who continue to face inequality throughout the world. When so-called justice systems permit child marriage but punish pregnant students, girls cannot access the education they deserve. When governments criminalize certain behaviors on the basis of “morality” but fail to investigate pervasive sexual violence, they signal that women should be devalued and externally defined. And when the legal profession hinders female lawyers from reaching positions of power, we perpetuate and exacerbate these cycles of discrimination.
The Clooney Foundation for Justice’s Waging Justice for Women 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 work closely with these expert partner organizations to provide legal and advocacy support, amplifying their work and causes.
We have seen first-hand how lawyers can reform discriminatory laws and obtain justice for survivors of abuse. We are proud to launch CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship, a new effort to empower the next generation of feminist lawyers to advance rights for women and girls in their communities.
Beginning in mid-2023, CFJ and our partner organizations will offer one-year, fully funded fellowships to an inaugural 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. Each Waging Justice for Women Fellow will spend the year embedded with one of ten leading human rights and legal advocacy organizations in sub-Saharan Africa. 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 will increase the ability of these organizations to deliver access to justice for women and girls.
CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program will also provide Fellows with mentorship, training, and access to leading lawyers, judges, activists, and academics from across the Continent and around the world. We will look to expand the number and geographical scope of the fellowship in future years.
CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program will be administered in partnership with the Legal Empowerment Fund at the Fund for Global Human Rights. It will offer fellows an annual salary and an opportunity to work with leading human rights organizations on gender justice. Fellows will 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.
The ten host organizations partnering with CFJ on the Fellowship Program in 2023-2024 are:
Fellows will also take part in a mentorship and training program, which will include a monthly online curriculum and at least one in-person convening. These programs will expose fellows to a diverse array of women leaders as well as strong peer support networks, which will 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 will also organize 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 on the Continent. We will 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.
1. How long is the fellowship?
Fellowships will be full-time, one-year opportunities, running from July 2023 – July 2024.
2. Will fellows be expected to work in person, virtually, or in a hybrid format?
Fellows should plan to make arrangements with their host organizations, who may operate in person or remotely. Because Fellows will be placed across the Continent, 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.
3. Will fellows be expected to travel?
This will depend on the needs of individual host organizations, but Fellows should expect to travel occasionally within the region to attend fellowship program events or assist with the legal work of their host organizations.
4. Who is eligible to apply?
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 one of the host organizations and who is early in their career (less than five years of professional experience, post-accreditation). Please see the application for additional qualification criteria.
5. How will fellows interact with host organizations, and how will fellows be matched to hosts?
Fellows will be embedded with a specific host organization for the entire year and will support that host’s litigation and legal advocacy portfolios relating to women’s rights. Candidates will be matched with hosts on the basis of geographic location and relevant interests. If selected for an interview, candidates will be informed of their potential host(s) at that juncture, and will be able to indicate a preference where applicable.
6. Are there any costs associated with the program? Will fellows be paid?
CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program will provide Fellows with a salary for 12 months, commensurate with local salary bands for early career lawyers. Additional travel or work expenses may be covered at the discretion of CFJ and/or the host organization.
7. Is there an application fee, and if so, is it possible to receive a waiver?
There is no fee to apply for CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program.
8. What is the timeline of the application process?
Applications for the inaugural class of CFJ’s Waging Justice for Women Fellowship Program will remain open until April 8, 2023. After that deadline, CFJ will screen applications in conjunction with partner organizations, and shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews by early May. Offers for the inaugural class of CFJ Fellows will be extended by late May, at the latest. Those selected for a fellowship should expect to begin in July of 2023.
If you have any additional questions or technical issues arise in completing the application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. As we expect to receive a large number of applications, CFJ will only be able to inform candidates who are shortlisted; other inquiries about the status of applications will go unanswered.