Celebrating female trailblazers is recognizing and giving honor to women who overcame countless obstacles to become pioneers in their fields. Female trailblazers are women who paid their prices in the hard currency of labour and hard work, shame, loneliness, self-doubt, ridicule, insults and many more, but at the end, through continued effort, determination, diligence, and perseverance, they set the pace for others to follow.
All over the nations of the earth, these women are scattered in different cities, states, countries, and regions, with a burning desire to make remarkable contributions to their societies.
Speaking of countries, we will be considering Botswana’s first female High Court Judge Unity Dow, the rare gem in a manger.
Unity Dow was born on the 23rd of April 1959 in a little village not far from Gaborone, Botswana. Although her parents were not highly educated, her father was enthusiastic about giving his children the best education. He believed strongly in the great value of a good education and encouraged his children to aim for the top.
In 1997, when large diamond deposits were discovered in Botswana, the year with a strategic influence on Botswana’s economy, which opened up the future of the country in what looked like sounds of great opportunities flooding towards the country, Unity applied for Law studies, at the University of Botswana on completing her Law degree, she proceeded to Swaziland and later the University of Edinburgh, Scotland to further her education.
After obtaining her Law Degree, she worked as a lawyer in a human rights organization in little Mochudi her home village.
Unity was known for her struggles in fighting for the rights of children and women especially the cases of rape, girl-child marriage and ownership rights for women. She was in charge of petitioning the acceptance of mixed race children from foreign fathers to be considered citizens of Botswana.
In 1991, she co-founded the private Baobab Primary School in Gaborone which remains one of the best primary schools in Botswana.
She is also one of the founders of the first AIDS-specific NGO in Botswana “AIDS ACTION TRUST.”
She was elevated to the position of Botswana’s high court judge by the then president himself via a phone call requesting her leadership in the court.
Unity was shocked at the call and requested for some time to think about it. She was unable to come up with a quick decision seeing that the position of the high court judge comes with a lot of restrictions which are unfavourable to her as a writer and an activist.
However, following the intervention of her father, who after speaking with the president encouraged his daughter to grab such opportunity that calls for a service to her fatherland.
She accepted the offer with hopes of changing her career when her children begin to approach the ages of severe attention.
During the years of her service as a high court judge, she put her best into making the most of the period and leaving a mark for all to remember, and in 2009 she retired from her position as the judge, having served for 11 years.
She settled for her career in writing, which had always held a strong attraction to her, and before long she broke through in her new career. She has succeeded in publishing five books which had to deal with gender issues and her nation’s poverty, the struggle between Western and traditional values.
In 2002, she launched her second novel, “The Screaming of the Innocent”; the novel is a true life story that explains the very sensitive subject of ritual murders of young girls.
She also contributed to the book “Schicksal Afrika” (Destiny Africa) written by the former German President Horst Koehler in 2009.
In May 2010, Harvard Press published her latest book, “Saturday is for Funerals,” which describes the AIDS problem in Africa.
Unity has also been participating in several special UN missions to African countries like Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
In the month of February 2010, after retiring from the office of the high court judge, she established her Legal Firm called Dow & Associates in Botswana. Establishing Dow & Associates was a spectacular milestone in her growth and achievements, which will always stand in her memorial.
Unity continued to make waves and attained many successes both locally and internationally, including being the judge of the IICDRC (Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court) of Kenya, sworn into the position by the Kenyan President to administer the newly formed constitution in Kenya.
The various awards which she acquired are also numerous including; the French Medal of the Légiond’honneur de France by representatives of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy for her human rights activities.
Currently, she occupies the position of the Minister for Basic Education Botswana, having served for four years gone.
Unity Dow is blessed with three children and resides in Mochudi, South East Botswana.