Josephine Jarpa Dawuni, Ph.D.

Howard University

Country: United States (Maryland)

About Me:

Dr. Josephine J. Dawuni is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University, Washington D.C. She holds an LL.B from the University of Ghana, and is a qualified Barrister-at-Law before the Ghana Superior Courts of Judicature. She holds a Doctorate in Political Science from Georgia State University. Her primary areas of research include judicial politics, gender and the law, international human rights, women’s civil society organizing and democratization. She is the editor (with Jude Akua Kuenyehia) of African Women Judges on International Courts (Routledge, 2018). Her first edited book (with Gretchen Bauer) Gender and the Judiciary in Africa: From Obscurity to Parity?  was published in 2016 by Routledge.  In 2016, she was awarded the prestigious Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship to undertake a project at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana. She is the founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) which focuses on enhancing the capacity of women in the legal professions in Africa and the Diaspora.  She is a Global Scholar at the Wilson Center Women in Public Service Project. She sits on the Board of the African Research Academies for Women (ARA-W). Dr. Dawuni belongs to several professional bodies and is currently the Co-Convener of the Gender and Judging Collaborative Research Network of the Law and Society Association, Co-Convener of the Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association and a Board member of the West African Research Association. She sits on the editorial board of the Journal of International Politics and Development (JIPAD).  Her research has appeared in journals such as Studies in Gender and Development in Africa, Journal of African Law, University of Baltimore Law Journal and Africa Today. Her areas of teaching are largely anchored between Comparative Politics and International Relations, with a focus on gender and the law, African politics and international human rights. She has designed and taught courses including international development, international law, comparative politics, African politics, gender politics in global perspectives, American government and global issues, to name a few.  Beyond her research and teaching, she loves to engage students both in and out of the classroom. She has organized and directed student panels for professional conferences such as the African Studies Association, International Studies Association, Midwest Political Science Association and Southern Political Science Association. She engages with students through student organizations and other programs such as the International Women’s Day event, which she organizes annually.   In 2017 she was a Visiting Scholar a Queens University Faculty of Law in Kingston, ON, Canada, and in 2015 she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law iCourts Center of Excellence for International Courts. Dr. Dawuni has presented her research internationally at several professional conferences and has been invited to speak at several universities.

Research Interests

African Politics


Gender and Politics

Comparative Democratization

International Law & Organization

Judicial Politics

Women And Law

Comparative Judicial Politics

Civil Society Africa

Democratic Governance

International Courts

Gender And Judging

Countries of Interest




Ivory Coast (Cote D`Ivoire)


My Research:

My current research agenda is multipronged- focusing broadly on women in the legal professions in Africa (lawyers, judges, prosecutors, notaries etc). I am currently focusing on women in judiciaries through a postcolonial lens and interrogating women's entry into judiciaries across select African countries and how women have transcended domestic boundaries to the international courts and tribunals. I use legal narratives as a tool to unearth the lived experiences and realities of the woman judge, through her own voice, thereby centering her experiences and use those experiences to construct a legal theory suitable and contextually relevant for the study of women legal professionals within the African context. In a book chapter in the volume Future of Feminist Engagement with International Law (Edward Elgar, 2018),I have developed the matri-legal theory as a relevant prism for developing discourse on the woman judge in Africa.