Vance Center Receives Major Grants for Key Projects

September 2021

South Africa

The U.S. Mission to South Africa awarded the Vance Center a two-year grant to support the advancement of Black women lawyers in the workforce in South Africa. The Vance Center will work with the South African Legal Fellows Alumni Network to address the gender gap in legal leadership positions through a mentorship program and other activities. The project will include a survey on gender diversity and inclusion in law firms and corporate legal departments and an interview video to showcase the impact of the project on women lawyers.

The project will rely on the experience and expertise of the Vance Center’s Women in the Profession (WIP) program and the experiences of some of the WIP chapters in Latin America.

Of the 19 WIP program chapters in 18 Latin American countries, nine chapters have set up mentorship programs, and several others are establishing them.  The Vance Center in 2021 initiated South-to-South exchanges with WIP chapters and partners in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, and Ethiopia.

The South African Legal Fellows Alumni Network includes 49 former participants in the Vance Center’s African Legal Fellows Program, founded in 2002 as the South African Visiting Lawyers Program.  The Vance Center also will seek to partner with other government and professional institutions in South Africa.

Central America and the Caribbean

The National Endowment for Democracy awarded a grant for a two-year project to support independent judges in Central America and the Caribbean in their efforts to establish and operate associations to promote judicial independence and integrity within the judiciary. The project will provide judges’ associations with tools to raise their profiles, create awareness of their challenges, and build support from the international legal community for their efforts.

The Vance Center also will provide the judges with technical tools to promote and defend judicial independence, as well as legal research and analysis of international and regional best practices on transparency and accountability in the judiciary. The project will engage the regional legal community to support independence and integrity in the judiciary.

The Vance Center will rely on its previous projects in Guatemala with the Guatemalan Association of Judges for Integrity, also supported by  NED,  and in Mexico and Peru, and its capacity through the Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights, the Pro Bono Network of the Americas, and the Women in the Profession Program.