2023 AWLA PARLEY: Female Lawyers Gather in Abuja to Examine Role of the Nigerian Woman in Socio-Economic & Personal Development


From the Annual Conference of Nigerian Bar Association’s Women Forum (NBAWF) in late March, to the Regional Conference of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Africa) in late August, Abuja, the Nigerian capital has, in the course of 2023, been the epicentre of discussions on ways to advance the profile and fortunes of the female component in the legal profession.

It would seem natural, then, that the Nigerian chapter of the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA Nigeria) should follow suit i.e. select Abuja as the venue for its 2023 Annual Parley.

The organisers of the event, which was held at the Media Center of the Moshood Abiola Stadium on the sidelines of the Annual General Conference of the NBA, were keen to advance the status of women and children in Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular and to promote the eradication of all forms of discrimination against them through various constitutional means in a bid to ensure a society free from the abuse and dehumanization of society’s most vulnerable members, including women and children. The Parley was also convened to create networks and partnerships among African women lawyers and like-minded organizations and individuals throughout Nigeria and Africa.

The Parley was graced by, among others, Vice-Presidents of AWLA and other Executive Council members. Notable among the special guests were the Honorable Minister for Women Affairs and Chairperson of the day, Mrs. Uju Kennedy Ohanenye, and Mr. George Etomi, the special Guest of honour and facilitator of the session. Others at the event were the Keynote Speaker and one-time Director-General of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mrs. Roli Bode-George; Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Rita Oki-Emesim (who is in charge of the Gender Unit at Force CID, Abuja); Mrs. Olivia Agbajoh, a former Member of the House of Representatives during the 2nd Republic and presidential aspirant duribg the 2023 election season; Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe (Partner at the law firm of The Law Crest and Chairman of the NBA Institute of Continuous Legal Education, ICLE), and many senior government functionaries.

Welcoming delegates and guests to the event, the National President of AWLA, Mrs. Efosa Etomi stressed the need for stronger forms of advocacy to ensure that AWLA’s mandate was achieved in the shortest possible time. “As women step forward into their power,… “ Etomi said, ” … and as we reach out and help those around us to do same, we are shaping the world as it should be.”

Speaking on the theme of the THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN WOMAN IN SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: GETTING IT RIGHT – FIXING THE BREACH , those who delivered goodwill messages called on all stakeholders in the Nigerian nation in general, and the legal profession in Nigeria, to align with the ideals of AWLA. In her Keynote Address, Dr. Roli Bode-George described the theme as apt and timely, as recognition is beginning to dawn on the part of perceptive stakeholders that the hoped-for regeneration of the Nigerian nation will remain in the realm of illusion without the robust contribution of women. She lamented that in spite of this understanding, women are still being undervalued and relegated to the background in the national scheme of things, and their contributions (which through the years have been quite substantial) have been unappreciated. One way to reverse this narrative, she said, was to amplify the voices of women through a well-structuted advocacy mechanism. To be able to do, however, she added, women must equip themselves intellectually, emotionally and financially.

Speaking in the same vein, Mrs. Olivia Agbajoh, who spoke from the perspective of women’s participation in Nigerian politics, called on critical stakeholders in the country’s political and electoral institutions to remove the debilitating obstacles that prevent women from taking their rightful place in the nation’s political affairs. Two of the most serious such obstacles, she went on say, are finance (or lack thereof) and the widespread use of violence (thuggery) before, during and after elections.

The Parley also featured an insightful panel discussion. In his intervention, the only male panelist, Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe drew on a number of personal and family anecdotes to make the point that women are far more resilient the face of disadvantages than society gives them credit for.

In spite of the numerous challenges women (particularly female lawyers) face, said the ICLE Chairman, it is heartening to note that (according to a recent report by the International Bar Association, IBA), 40% of lawyers in Nigeria are female – and 33% of this figure are Judges and Justices. And the numbers keep rising.

Erojikwe added that the relative profiles and fortunes of women in the profession is a pointer to the fact that, with greater effort and more robust advocacy, women will before long be able to secure, not just their gender-based rights and privileges, but the restoration of the Nigerian legal ecosystem in its entirety – and in essence provide succour for an increasingly beleaguered institution such as the legal profession.

To this end, Erojikwe echoed the Keynote Speaker’s admonition to women to take self -development and empowerment more seriously – most especially by getting to grips with new and potentially disruptive technologies, as well being conversant with the impact of globalization and liberalisation on the business of law.

The Parley was packed with a robust programme of events, with, apart from the speeches and discourses, also featured the cutting of the AWLA cake to mark the occasion, a lottery draw, as well as the formal presentations of awards to individuals who have supported AWLA in one way or another in its bid to promote the interest of womenfolk on the African continent, and Nigeria in particular.

See Pictures below👇

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