Welcome Address by the President of AWLA Mandy Demechi-Asagba Esq. on the Day of the African Woman 2021

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Good morning/afternoon your excellencies, my Lords, our keynote speakers & special guests, our First Ladies & elected public officials from the Africa continent and around the globe, our distinguished Ladies & gentlemen of the Bar and the press
We are very delighted to have you here with us in our quest to identify the issues and challenges that are peculiar to the African Woman with a view to finding key interventions that will eliminate all forms of barriers or obstacles so she can reach her fullest potential & contribute her quota to her community.

This year, the theme of our 2021 conference is: “Achieving equal
representation for women:
Panacea for inequality,
indignity, insecurity and underdevelopment.”

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This theme and the keywords speaks for themselves. Inequality, as we know depicts a situation where there is lack of equality or where you have a state of disparity between the rich and the poor or between men and women. Indignity on its own also means treatment or circumstances that causes one to feel shame or to lose one’s dignity while insecurity is the state of being open to danger or threat. Finally, underdevelopment is a term that is characterized by widespread chronic poverty and low economic development than other nations.

From the theme and keywords explained above, I am sure you will all agree with me that women are deeply affected where there is inequality, indignity, insecurity and underdevelopment. These four keywords impedes productivity and progress of women and it is contrary to Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals which seeks to ensure that that there should be an end to all forms of Violence Against Women and Exploitation of Women and Girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking, sexual and other types of exploitation.

Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen, many issues are daily confronting the African Woman. While recognising this fact, we have assembled a team of experts to come and do justice to this discussion. These speakers here present, are going to provide insightful perspectives into why many African women are still finding it difficult to get to the top of their career. Why are they still facing discrimination in their chosen field? What can we do to ensure rape survivors, oppressed widows, trafficked women, women living with disabilities and other women in vulnerable positions have access to justice? Are women fully represented in the political circle? What are the peculiar barriers facing the African Woman? Can we find a lasting solution and finally what principles should we embrace if we truly want to achieve equal representation for African women?

Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. But equal power will not happen by itself, especially in male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. We need to work together with vision, resolution, determination, focus and doggedness to make equality happen

By Putting Equality at the Heart of Everything

Gender Inequality is the ‘Unfinished Business of Our Time’, says UN Secretary General which we are poised to finish

a quote from former Irish President, Mary Robinson, who “instead of rocking the cradle, rocked Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power. But equal power will not happen by itself, especially in male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. We need to work together with vision, resolution, determination, focus and doggedness to make equality happen system.” Geraldine reiterated, “the time is now, we’ve had enough, it’s time to rock the system.”

The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajcak (“we need to reinvigorate focus on gender equality”)

We all know women’s participation makes peace agreements more durable, but we still struggle to make sure women are included in negotiating teams.

We have a fight on our hands. And it is a fight we must win – together. No retreat no surrender!

So let us choose to challenge,

Let us ‘soro soke’ say it loud and clear:

We will not give ground.

We will not turn back.

We will not give up

We will push back against the pushback.

And we will keep pushing until we roll off all the barriers

On this note, I welcome you once again as AWLA and the rest of Africa and the world looks forward to learning a lot from our able speakers so we can all go back to our various communities and put the practical recommendations and suggestions to good use.

Thank you and I welcome you all once again.

Mandy Asagba.
President
African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA)
29 July, 2021

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