Ms. Dawood has degrees in law, African Government and Administration and a masters in Economic History, and currently an Aspen Global Fellow.
She has worked for a decade as a chief researcher for a land rights organisation and have 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, Ms Dawood was 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 was also an advisor to Cabinet Members and the Presidency of Nelson Mandela. Her involvement with the Department of Defence included drafting their legislation and policies on Land and Environment.
In mid-1999, Ms Dawood joined the Open Society Institute, founded by financier and philanthropist, George Soros as Executive Director for South Africa and Country Director of Indonesia, where she headed up an OSF entity that seeks to institutionalize democracy and an open society in the largest Muslim country in the world. Ms Dawood also founded the South African Foreign Policy Initiative in 2011.
She has subsequently worked as a Professional Associate of the Zamyn Foundation, which is an independent analytical organisation working at the intersection of socio-economic, political and cultural theory and practice and in the areas of promoting arts and culture as Business Executive at the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.
From 2016, Ms Dawood served as the Director for the Centre for Unity in Diversity and was responsible for policy analysis, drafting of policy briefs, media statements and actively promoting constitutional values of unity, equality and justice.
Ms Dawood is currently an independent policy analyst who is engaged internationally in key issues related to human rights and international justice, social, economic and legal reform and the promotion of independent media. She serves on the boards of the Southern African Litigation Centre, Mathsmums, Cape Town City Ballet and (Bono’s) ONE Africa Policy Advisory Panel.