Female Lawyers Urged To Pursue Gender Disparity Bill In National Assembly

By Clement A. Oloyede

A lecturer at the just concluded Africa Regional Conference of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Nigeria has urged female lawyers to re-present the Gender Disparity Bill to the National Assembly.

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Prof. Dakas G.J. Dakas of the University of Jos, a discussant on the topic “Gender Disparity and the Legal Profession: The Nigeria Dispensation and Agenda for Action,” said it was essential that FIDA revisited the bill and collaborated with the sponsors to work for its passage into law.

He said the bill which sought for equality between men and women in all spheres of life was thrown out of the Senate last year because some members misconstrued it to be in conflict with culture. However, issues which the bill had sought to address resonated during the congress as members of FIDA deliberated on means to address gender disparity in the country.

He also urged female lawyers to test some of the existing laws in courts in order to move them from jury equality to de facto equality. He said it was absurd for female lawyers to be addressed as gentlemen of the bar when they are not men.

“They don’t have to be gentlemen to be lawyers. What they need is equality of status,” he said.

The law professor also charged FIDA to seek legislation to address hostile work environments which the female folk were subjected to. They should also seek means to navigate work and family challenges that had held them back. He urged females who were aspiring to grow to have mentor and role models they look up to.

Also speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, the president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), said the bar was looking for how to strengthen the responses to challenges facing the country. He said the NBA would also look into the issue of gender parity.

He said the Senate President had informed him that there would be a public hearing on the Gender Equality bill soon and that the association would take part in it.

The keynote speaker, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, noted that political violence was one of the greatest obstacles to women’s effective participation in politics.

He said war and public health had been responsible for the growth of women representation in parliaments across Africa, adding that gender parity could be achieved through affirmative actions.

Source: allafrica.com

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