First woman to serve on Botswana’s High Court to kick off new Portland lecture series (video)

The University of Maine School of Law is launching its new Justice for Women lecture series this spring, and starting things off on March 27 is the Hon. Unity Dow, recognizable as the first woman to serve on Botswana’s High Court.

Unity Dow (photo courtesy of Maxwell Media)

Dow is scheduled to make a series of appearances throughout Portland that day and the following, with her keynote lecture taking place at 7 p.m. on March 27 at the Abromson Center on Bedford Street.

The new lecture series is being established with the support of private donors, led by attorney Catherine Lee, founder of the Westbrook-based Lee International. Here’s what Lee said about the series in a statement released recently:

I’ve had the opportunity to travel in the developing world and I continue to be impressed, awed really, by the extraordinary work being done to eliminate barriers for women and girls. I hope the lecture series will help us to imagine new possibilities for promoting justice and equal life opportunities for women and girls here at home.

Here’s a little bit more about Dow, as passed along by Maine Law’s public relations consultant (and a fellow known to all of us in Maine journalism for his work at The Portland Press Herald) Trevor Maxwell:

Dow is one of the world’s foremost advocates for the rights of women and indigenous groups. In 1998 Dow became the first female judge appointed to the High Court of Botswana, and she served on the court until 2009. One landmark case during her tenure involved a group of Botswana’s Bushmen who won the right to live and hunt on ancestral lands in the Kalahari. The author of four novels and a non-fiction book, Dow published her latest book, “Saturday is for Funerals,” in 2010. The book examines recent successes that Botswana has had in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Dow’s itinerary includes a 2:30 p.m. ceremony and talk at Portland High School and her 7 p.m. lecture at the Abromson Center (the latter of which is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested and can be made by contacting Lexie Moras at or 207-780-4344), as well as a 3 p.m. book signing at Longfellow Books the following day, March 28.

Here’s video of a talk given by Dow — on a different topic than the one she’ll be bringing to Portland, admittedly — at last fall’s PopTech conference in Camden:

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Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.