Ms Dawood has degrees in law, one in African Government and Administration and a Master’s Degree in Economic History.
She has worked for a decade as a chief researcher for a land rights organisation and has during this time, written widely on the issues of land reform and in particular on the restitution of land rights. This was at the height of apartheid, where land struggles and land access were central to debates on the construction of the post-apartheid state.
On moving to government after 1994, she had been involved in drafting land legislation for the new government. Her work with the Department of Land Affairs and Agriculture involved policy formulation and implementation, including negotiations and settlement of land claims. She has been advisor to Cabinet Members and the Presidency of Nelson Mandela.
She has also worked for the Department of Defence in drafting their legislation and policies on Land and Environment. In mid-1999 she joined the Open Society Institute, founded by financier and philanthropist, George Soros, as the Deputy Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation for South Africa and from June 2001 has held the position of Executive Director.
Ms Dawood is actively engaged internationally in key issues related to human rights and international justice, social, economic and legal reform and the promotion of independent media. In addition to her responsibilities for South Africa for the Open Society Institute, she has, since December 2006, been appointed to head up OSI-NY’s efforts in Indonesia as country director, where she headed up an OSI entity that seeks to institutionalize democracy and an open society in the largest Muslim country in the world. She is also an Aspen Fellow.