Our Founding Members

Ms. Emelia Adjepong

Ms. Emelia Adjepong

Ms. Emelia Adjepong is a lawyer by profession and a women’s rights activist. She started her legal career in the legal department of Volta River Authority (VRA). She left after several years to take over management of her father’s company, Ayrton Drug Manufacturing Company when her father passed away. During this period, she was an active member of FIDA Ghana. It was during her term as president in 1985 that she spearheaded the setting up of FIDA Legal Aid Centre, later serving as the first administrator of the Centre. She is also a founding member of WiLDAF Ghana and the Gender Studies and Human Rights Documentation Centre. Emelia has strong facilitation skills. Emelia served on the General Legal Council as representative of the Bar Association for a number of years. Emelia retired from the Board of Directors in December 2019.

Joana Foster

Joana Foster

Joana Foster was educated in Ghana and the United Kingdom and was qualified to practice as a lawyer in both countries. A social activist for over 30 years, Joana Foster worked most of her adult life in the United Kingdom as a law lecturer in various colleges and a practicing lawyer specializing in immigration law, divorce, welfare rights (housing and labour rights).

In her spare time, she gave free legal advice to clients in various women’s and ethnic centres. Joana worked in Africa first as a Country Director for CUSO in Ghana, then as a Regional Coordinator for Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), and was based in the headquarters in Zimbabwe. She is a co-founder of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) – the first Africa-wide Fund for women in Africa. She also served as a gender advisor to the UN Mission in Liberia. We sadly lost Joana in November 2016.


Professor Akua Kuenyehia

Professor Akua Kuenyehia

Professor Akua Kuenyehia is a Ghanaian Lawyer who served as a judge of the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2015. Prof. Kuenyehia was educated at the University of Ghana, Legon, and Oxford University. She spent most of her professional career teaching at the Faculty of Law in the University of Ghana, ending her career as Dean of the Faculty. While at the university, she taught criminal law, gender and the law, international human rights law, and public international law. She was also a Visiting Professor at other institutions including Leiden University in the Netherlands and Temple University in the United States of America. While at the Faculty of Law, she coordinated a Sub Regional Research Network, Women and Law in West Africa covering Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. 

Kuenyehia's activism saw her serving as one of the first board members of the Africa Regional Network, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF). In Ghana, she was an active member of FIDA Ghana, serving as president from 1988-1992. She has been a pioneer advocating for equal opportunity, justice, and development for women in Ghana and around the world. She has published widely on women and law. She is co-author of a textbook on Women and Law in Sub-Saharan Africa, published in August 2003 which is currently the only comprehensive textbook on the subject. She served on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) from 2002 till she was elected to be a judge in the International Criminal Court in 2003. 


Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah

Mrs Dorcas Coker-Appiah

Mrs. Dorcas Coker-Appiah is a lawyer by profession. She started her professional career at the Attorney-General’s Department as a State Attorney. She left to join the State Hotels Corporation as the Solicitor Secretary. As an active member of FIDA Ghana, she served as President from 1992 to 1994. As a legal aid volunteer, she received funding to start FIDA's simplification of family laws project.

Dorcas also participated in the first conference of WiLDAF in Harare, which inspired her to help with the establishment of WiLDAF Ghana. Dorcas was the first coordinator of WiLDAF Ghana, developing the Legal Awareness Programme in Western and Volta Regions. As one of the four founding members of the GSHRDC, Dorcas has been the driving force behind the organisation, serving as the Executive Director to date. Dorcas's activism expands beyond the national level. She served two terms on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee. She is also one of the founders of the International Network to End Violence against Women and Girls, INEVAWG. The network was formed by a group women of colour from the global south. Dorcas has several publications to her credit.