The Institute of African Women in Law, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum (NBAWF) has launched a trio of reports on the participation of women in leadership and law. The research gives empirical data on the subject under review with a focus on three key sectors of the legal profession – the Bar, the Bench and academia.

NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine’s correspondent reports that the research was carried out on behalf of the IAWL by the Research and Documentation Committee of the NBAWF, headed by Prof. Adejoke Oyewunmi, Professor of Law at the University of Lagos.

Held in the majestic ambience of the Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel in Lagos, the launch event was moderated by Ozofu Igemudia, Partner at Udo-Udoma & Belo-Osagie and was graced by notable and distinguished members of the Bar, the Bench and academia. In particular, several Justices of various courts were in attendance, notable among them the Hon. Justice Amina Augie, JSC, who was the Guest Speaker at the event, and the Hon. Justice Toyin Oyekan-Abdullahi, a Judge at the High Court of Lagos State.

Also in attendance were senior members of the Bar such as Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, SAN, the former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Edo State; Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, MFR, Co-founder and Chief Counsel, Aluko and Oyebode; Yakubu C. Maikyau SAN, President of the Nigerian Bar Association (who was ably represented by Adesina Adegbite, General Secretary of the NBA); Mrs. Hairat Balogun, OON, founder and Senior Partner at Libra Law; and Funke Agbor, SAN, Senior Partner at Dentons-ACAS Law.

Representing the academia were Prof. Oluyemisi Bamgbose, SAN, the immediate Past Chairperson of the NBAWF and currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan; Prof. Chioma Kanu Agomo, Professor of Law at the University of Lagos; Prof. Adejoke Oyewunmi, Head, Research and Documentation Committee of the NBAWF; and Onyoja Momoh (PhD), International Family Law Expert and Board Member of the IAWL.

The Chairperson of the NBAWF, Chinyere Okorocha, in her opening remarks, congratulated both bodies on the momentous report launch, noting that the NBAWF was first contacted in 2021 by Prof. Jarpa Dawuni, Founder and Executive Director of IAWL, to carry out a research on its behalf, an effort which now marks the first properly compiled data on women in law and leadership in Nigeria. She also noted that for untold centuries, women were not treated with the fairness they deserved in the community and even in professions like law – which is why, she said, the research will go a long way to establish, through empirical evidence, whether women’s complaints of inequitable treatment were well-founded. Recommendations from the reports, Okorocha assured, would be carried forward to the right quarters in order to get desired results.

In his goodwill message, which was delivered by the NBA’s Gen.Secretary Adegbite, the Association’s President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, lauded the initiative of the IAWL and NBAWF in this regard and noted that it was good to see women take charge of their destiny, assuring the NBAWF would constantly enjoy the support of his administration.

Also speaking, Prof Dawuni stated that the research was conducted in four African countries – Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, adding that, following it’s formal inauguration in Nigeria, it will proceed to other countries. The study, according to her, shows that although there are notable female thought leaders in Nigeria, a lot still needs to be done to increase the number of female legal professionals in leadership in every sector of the legal industry. The research, she added, was carried out to, among other things, highlight the successes of female lawyers in Nigeria as well as point out the challenges and proffer solutions to them.

An overview of the reports was given by Yinka Omorogbe, SAN, former Attorney General of Edo State, who noted that it provides recommendations on how to improve conditions for women and promote effective gender-inclusion policies.

NEWSWIRE correspondent also reports that one of the highlights of the evening was a ‘Fireside Chat’ between Hon. Justice Amina Augie, JSC and Prof J. Jarpa Dawuni. Speaking on her 45-year career and experience as a woman in academia and on the Bench, Justice Augie noted that to rise and be part of leadership, women will of necessity encounter a plethora of challenges and obstacles, which they must embrace, learn lessons from them and be prepared for anything. “Wanting to be a leader is one thing,” she declared. “Preparing for when it comes is another. So women have to own it and embrace crisis and be confident always.”

Respective reports of the research were unveiled by Justice J. Jarpa Dawuni and Mrs. Chinyere Okorocha, with the support of Justice Augie, JSC; Prof Bamgbose SAN; Mr. Oyebode, MFR; Prof. Omorogbe, SAN and Dr. Momoh.

In her acknowledgements, Dr. Onyoja Momoh noted that the reports show that it is not enough to have gender-inclusion policies in place unless they are effectively implemented. “Rights are meaningless,” she added, “unless they are consistently enforced.”

The closing remarks at the occasion were given by Prof. Bamgbose, SAN, who stated that this event was only just the beginning of what the partnership between the two bodies, IAWL and NBAWF, will achieve. She asserted that the research carried out by the two bodies has shown that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal No. 5, concerning Gender Equality and Women Empowerment was totally achievable.

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