Mrs. Rose Oby Nwosu
RAPPORTEURS REPORT ON FIDA AFRICA REGIONAL CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 20–24, 2010.
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) African Regional Congress 2010 started on Monday 20th September with members arriving from different parts of Africa and Nigeria. The Theme for the Congress is “African Women’s Decade (2010 – 2020): Advancing Gender Equality”.
Day 2, Tuesday 21st September, 2010 commenced with the opening ceremony with the 1st Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan attending. The first Lady arrived the venue of the opening ceremony Shehu Musa Yaradua Centre at 11:30am. After the national anthem, Princess E. Oladunni said the Christian prayer while Hajiya Sa’adatu Safii said the Muslim prayer.
The Master of Ceremony Ms Patience Adonyi introduced the 1st Lady and her entourage and all the other dignitaries in attendance. She noted that the 1st lady have been in Women and Youth empowerment for a long time before becoming 1st Lady. Through the Arara Reach-Out Foundation she had touched the lives of women and children through her economic empowerment, heart foundation and soup kitchen for feeding the less privileged. She is the Grand patron of the Women for Change Initiative which is for the advancement of women in Nigeria. Under the Initiative is also the Peace Network.
The MC introduced FIDA through the history and objectives of FIDA.
The Chairman of the occasion was Hon. Justice Ishaq Bello of the High Court of the FCT representing the Chief Judge of the High Court of the FCT – Hon. Justice L.J. Gummi (OFR). The Chairman after apologizing for the inability of the Chief Judge of the F.C.T. to attend presented his credentials to the 1st Lady. He recounted his passion for giving free legal assistance to the indigent in Sokoto where he practiced law. This attracted the attention of the C.J., (then Chief Magistrate) who asked him to take up the case of an indigent woman. He thus identified his passion with the objectives of FIDA. He urged participants to begin by treating the people that live with them with the respect and dignity due to the human person.
The Regional Vice President hereafter referred to as the RVP, made her welcome speech on behalf of the General Planning Committee and the members of the various sub- committees. She thanked everybody for attending.
Goodwill messages were received from the Attorney General of the Federation represented by He pledged to continue to support the objectives of FIDA; the Representative of the Minister for Women Affairs – Iyom Josephine Anenih, Mrs. Victoria Uzogw noted that the timing of the session is apt considering the various challenges women are currently facing. She said that the congress provided women with the opportunity to brainstorm and proffer solution to the various problems of women, children and the poor. Nigeria women have tried but have not yet reached where they can say Uhuru. The Africa Women Decade provides opportunity to fast track and make effective use of the Conventions Protocols and Declarations already in place for women. She urged that we must not fail and all hands must be on deck.
The International President of FIDA Mrs. Stella Ugboma in her goodwill message noted that women empowerment is the song of the day worldwide. That the International Executive of FIDA have great expectations and are going to meet in Taiwan as part of the activities marking 25years of FIDA’S existence in that country. She noted that the Secretary General of the U.N Mr. Ban Ki Moon expressed disappointment that state parties were not making enough efforts at utilizing the International instrument and agencies set up by the U.N for women. She thanked first lady for the Women for Change Initiative which is moving round the country but urged that she ensures that women are appointed into various Boards. She congratulated Mrs. Nwosu, the RVP for being a FIDA parliamentarian, a part reserved for only past presidents which she had not become.
The Chairman of the NBA, Abuja Branch gave his goodwill message. He said that every man listens to a woman, either as a mother or wife and that we should first talk to our men who constitute 90% of the leadership to make the desired change.
The NBA President represented by Mrs. Funmi Oluyede sent his greetings and good wishes to FIDA and hopes for a successful, productive congress that will benefit women in Nigeria and Africa.
The CVP FIDA Nigeria, Mrs. Ezinwa Okoroafor welcomed participants in all the Nigerian National languages. She expressed her joy that while Taiwan is celebrating 25 years of FIDA, FIDA Nigeria is 47 years.
Mrs. Sarah Jibril, former Presidential aspirant in her goodwill message said that FIDA have chosen to put a bio-legal input to humanity. She said that the domestication of the women species depend on women as mothers and that mothers must exhibit good ethics and character as the hands that rock the cradle.
The President of NCWS, Hajia Ramatu Usman in her comment said that the burden of the woman can never be monetized. She called for equal right and justice for women. She identified FIDA as a very good and effective member of the Council.
After the goodwill messages, a playlet was showcased. The playlet contained messages on voter education and mandate protection. Women were encouraged to take up elective positions.
After the playlet, the Theme Paper “African Women’s Decade (2010 – 2020): Advancing Gender Equality” was presented by Prof. Miriam Ikejiani-Clark of the Department of Political Science, UNN and former Minister of the FCT. She gave an analysis of the socio-economic, political, cultural and civil rights challenges of the Nigerian woman and proffered ways of achieving and advancing gender equality in Nigeria and Africa.
The peak of the occasion was the 1st Lady’s Opening Address. She thanked God for making her able to attend despite the challenges. She pointed out that women are still to be included in the development process. She charged us to use the Congress to seek strategies to fully enhance women’s chances. FIDA should be in the forefront and act as a genuine agent of change. Women for Change Initiative are an innovation that has offered us opportunity to access and contribute our quota as women. We must take comprehensive approach and review customary practices that hinder women’s progress in Nigeria especially considering the success of some countries that have achieved over 35% women representation while Nigeria is only 8%. She urged women to take advantage of the call of the President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to a free and fair election. Women should come out and register to vote and be voted for. She appealed to FIDA to lobby the National Assembly to actualize the affirmative action in Nigeria. Nigeria being a signatory of CEDAW must eschew discrimination, and FIDA must offer legal assistance to protect women against widowhood practices, workplace discrimination, etc. She urged us to always be the first to defend the rights of women, something we did not do in the case of Ijeoma Okereke, the woman brutalized in Lagos.
She reminded us that the day was Africa’s Day of Peace as declared by the U.N and implored us to talk peace in our homes, community, state and in Nigeria.
At 2:45pm, she declared the Congress open. Thereafter, Mrs. Laraba Shuaibu – the Chairperson of FIDA Abuja expressed gratitude to all for honouring the invitation.
On the list of dignitaries are: …. Including little Miss Sylvia … showing a model of the future Nigerian Girl Child.
After lunch, participants reconvened for the Afternoon Session under the Chairmanship of Her Excellency, Chief (Mrs.) Chinyere Asika (OFR). Other members on the high table included Amina Salihu, National Coordinator, Coalitions for Change, Anne Amadi, National Coordinator, National Legal Aid Awareness, the International President – Chief (Mrs.) Stella Ugboma, RVP – Mrs. Rose Nwosu, Mrs. Agbamuche, Mrs. Stella Omiyi and Princess Oladunni.
The Chairman welcomed all to that session. The first paper titled “Fixing a Leaky Bucket, Strategies for Women’s Effective Political Participation” was given by Amina Salihu. She identified politics in Nigeria as a situation with lots of leakages that needs fixing. She further identified the state, society and women’s organizing as the challenging donators of this leaking bucket. The problems of this 2003 elections were repeated in 2007 with respect to the systematic elimination of women at inter party level. She recommended strategies achieving equality in political participated more especially; she recommended that there should be an inter-generational organizing. She expect FIDA to serve as leadership for change because people, friends, organizations respect FIDA. She urged that women work together because what unites women greatly outweighs what divides them.
The second session was delivered by Anne Amadi, the National Coordinator National Legal Aid awareness program, Kenya on “The New Kenyan Constitution” she highlighted the gains the Kenyan women have made in the new constitution. Before the constitution, women did not have political, economic and social recognition or party. She listed some of the gains to include:
- It recognizes respect, equality, the rule of law, democracy etc.
- Introduces incorporation of International treaties into Kenyan domestic law
- Protection of vulnerable groups in society, women are identified as vulnerable
- Twining in appointments
- The rule that no particular gender can have more than 2/3 representation in any level of political position
- Equal property right for men and women etc.
It was a great achievement for Kenyan women who had battled with non representation.
The Chairperson summarized and thanked the presenters. Comments were taken after the Chairman’s comment.
Ms Jasmine, Vice Chairperson of FIDA Sierra Leone raised the need for controlling expenditure in politics. She suggested that as a long time strategy, FIDA should start a debate on “How to Control the Cost of Election”.
Mrs. Edeko from FIDA Edo noted that the suggestions would be for the long term as it is too late for the upcoming elections.
Dr. Ogugua Ikpeze from FIDA Anambra advised the Kenyan women that customary matters are ingrained in the people already. Mrs. Felicia Ikyegh from FIDA Benue reiterated the need to train the lower bench as many are not aware of the existence of the International Treaties and Conventions.
Ms Nene Cham, Vice President F.L.A.G Gambia pointed out the need to include men and work on their perceptions and also sensitize the grassroot women.
Princess Oladunni speaking from her wealth of experience advised that educated and career women must know how to manage their personality because our education and success sometimes make us vulnerable.
Both presenters appreciated the comment made on their papers and responded to the issues. The second session for the 21st ended by 5:35pm with a vote of thanks by Mrs. Chigoziri Ojiakor, chairperson of FIDA Lagos.
DAY 3: MORNING SESSION
OPENING PRAYERS: Muslim Prayer …….Chairperson FIDA Kano
Christian Prayer……. Justina Vrengle Jos Branch.
INTRODUCTIONS: At the high table were the International President Mrs. Ugboma, the Regional Vice President, Betty Luma Iwu from Cameroon, Nene Cham from Gambia and Mrs. Stella Omiyi. The Chairperson was Princess Oladunni.
PAPER I: Ensuring a sustainable Legal and Regulatory Framework for Women Economic Empowerment by Mr. Chukwuemeka I. Eke
Chose to deal with then Niger & Abia states in his paper.
Rural women own less than 1% of landmass in the country. They also have less than 1% of access to credit, loans, etc in the country. This means no matter what is given to them they will go back not improved. One Mrs. Nwafor had done a research and found that it appears e.g. Abiriba – is a matrilineal Society, women ought to be empowered since inheritance is from the mother’s line, but it is not so.
- Gender Disaggregated Statistics: Gathering Statistics is gender blind and there is a need to depart from this trend at the national level.
- Italian government fought against prostitution because it was milking their economy
- B.I has no statistics to show its impact on women folk. In the absence of this the war on women empowerment can’t be won.
THE WAY FORWARD
- Federal Government must establish a nationwide rural women federation that would monitor CEDAW.
- Mobilize rural women and the populace to win the war.
PAPER 2: FUNDAMENTALS FOR SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP.
- Know yourself
- The knowledge determines what you do in life
- Passion and commitment
- Planning: Women should take stock of their lives and have a plan for their lives
- Position yourself positively and don’t view challenges as a setback.
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILL
- Read widely, gain knowledge
- Have mentors
- Be innovative
- Always be alert and positioned for success
- Keep meticulous financial records, keep account of financial dealings
- Have financial services provided
- Women find this difficult
- However utilize trade groups, professional groups etc
- Make yourself available for service
BUILD YOUR BRAND
- Identify from the start what you want to do and establish it
- Reputation, Experience matters
- Toot your own horn. Marketing for success
- Train them
- Motivate them
- Be interested in their welfare
- Pray to God for the gift of men
GROWTH AND EXPANSION
- Either reality is good – who you are
- Look out for opportunities
DISCIPLINE AND HARDWORK
- This is the core of success
- Have your domestic affairs well covered by staff or family
- Forget the myth of having more time for yourself
- Learn to multi-task; it is absolutely essential
- Work–Life balance is a daily choice
Have faith in God
Mrs. S. Ugboma: In analyzing the sex trade in Italy, were you regretting the fact that the source of money is closed? Please clarify.
Mrs. Edeko: Believes that women should be economically empowered and that is the only way to minimize marginalization.
Mrs. Comfort Agumagu: What do you do with a difficult husband who does not allow you to actualize your potentials?
Dr. Lizzy Oji: Contributes that the Bende Area of Abia is both patrilineal and matrilineal. A child can inherit from the Father if he acquired the property with his own resources.
Mercy Deche – Kenya
The second speaker said women should start small and dream big, but in reality it appears women start small and grow even smaller. What can be done?
What does the second speaker think about affirmative action in business
Lawyers especially young ones, are not dressing properly
Mrs. Y. Zaccheaus
Where a woman is in a situation where a husband is difficult or unresponsive to her dreams, she should find out what his fear is, engage him, submit and be open.
Start small to be realistic, dream big and keep milestones. Have a plan, take stock and your business will grow.
Mr. C. I. Eke
Italy researched the amount of money that was repatriated by sex workers. He is encouraging gender research, just as they did in Italy,
Strategies should be taken to source for income to assist them in fighting against government policies that do not favour them.
The chairperson summarized and encouraged women to venture out, take risk because women have moved themselves by always paying back loans when we are at work; we are staff and not women. We must not compromise ourselves become it would be used against us and other woman. Remember that the world is filled with opportunities, after the hard times, the better days will certainly come. Do not live on the last days. Always be firm, upright and consistent they will find you out when they want upright people. She gave us very useful live tips on being a successful professional and Mother.
Haija Fatima said the vote of thanks. The session came to an end by 12:30pm.
THE 3RD PAPER for the morning session “Challenges of Business and Investment, A Nigerian Woman’s Experience” was taken by Mrs. Florence Seriki, CEO, Omatek Computer Ltd. She started that in her 24th years of doing business, this period has presented the highest challenges, and she stated that it is a tough terrain so women intending to succeed in business must also be tough. She defines an entrepreneur as one who can create something out of nothing. She gave very useful tips on how to create and sustain a business (see)
During the comments/questions, Mrs. Ojobo Atuluku asked what government had been most challenging and most favourable. She identified the policies requesting the government agencies to buy from the local companies and the emergence of the stakeholder’s forum. The worst is the inability of subsequent governments to sustain the good policies.
To the question from Mrs. Edeko, FIDA Edo on how she manages the insecurity in the country, she replied that she depends on divine protection.
To the question from Mrs. Kiraku (MFR) on the greatest challenge as women, she replied that it was not knowing who to trust. Niro Mohammed, Chair FIDA Nigeria advised that every woman must devise a method that works for her in relation to non-supportive husbands. Mrs. Justina Vrenge (Plateau) asked to know what qualities subordinates must have to be given delegated duties .Mrs. Seriki urged that women train their staff in order to create entrepreneurs from them. Delegations not handing off you must create a follow-up and good feedback who do not understand how you got to where you are.
The morning session ended by 2:32.
The Chair Dr. Ogugua Osi-Ogbu welcome participants to the session. She expressed that she was delighted that FIDA thought it wise to add a health session in the programme.
The 1st papers on “Women’s Right to health an Inalienable Right” by Mrs. Ojobo Atunuku she gave a conceptual analysis of the basic terms women, health right, inalienable women’s right to health and agenda. She presented the alarming data showing the lack of access of women to health care and the need to recognize women’s right as an inalienable right. She believes that FIDA stands in a strategic position to apply rights- based approach to reproductive right issues.
The 2nd paper by Dr. Ejike Oji of IPAS was on “Material Health: A sine qua non to Development”. He tagged the paper “The paradoxes of our Times” He restated the former U.N.S.G. aspiration that health finally will be seen not as a blessing to be wished for.
He defined maternal health and development emphasizing with statistics the link between the two; the buffer being education of the Girl-child. The paradox is the rich country with poor people. He identified family planning as the key to development and that unless drastic steps were taken; we would never make the MDG’s.
The 3rd paper “Improving Women’s Lives Through Peak Performance” was by Dr. Charles Cudjoe, Medical Director/Chief Executive of the Byron Institute. He said that peak performance is hinged on the three legged stool of self care, self care and care. He gave us the conditions precedent for peak performance and the need for once skills to match the challenge. He also gave the 6 M’s and an H of what we must manage well to attain peak performance. He also identified the limiting factors to peak performance, he gave some self examining questions to assist us in telling ourselves the truth of our spiritual and physical state of health.
At the end of the paper presentation the Chairperson identified only one common factor in all the papers: “Education”
From the participants, Leticia Chinwuba from FIDA Enugu stressed on the role of harsh medical personnel in discouraging women from accessing the existing health facilities.
Mrs. Comfort Agumagu from FIDA River asked how women can effectively use family planning when many of their husbands rape them? Mrs. Gladys Chibuzor, also from FIDA Rivers asked for more emphasis on the role of the men in achieving the reproductive rights of women. Rita Levi from FIDA Ekiti wanted to know if there was any policy that required medical doctors to horde information from their patients. Aisha Bello, FIDA Taraba raised the issue of men compelling their wives to have abortions.
In response, Mrs. Atuluku agreed that the harshness of medical personnel sometimes send women away from medical institutions but that they sometimes work also to react to the unfavourable conditions of work. She encouraged that we should strengthen ourselves and seek redress.
On the issue of marital rape, Dr. Oji responded that it is a collective responsibility and that men should also be invited to fora like this to listen to the issue. He suggested that FIDA should give women more information to empower them make the right choices on the reproductive rights. He noted that it is the economic realities of the day that is pushing men to ask their wives to go for abortions. He said he was going to institute a study on the extent medical personnel contribute to maternal death.
The session came to an end by 5:10pm.
DAY 4 – MORNING SESSION
Started by 10:45am under the chairmanship of IVY U. Okoronkwo (AIG)
Hadiza Dagbana Salleh said the Muslim Prayer and Ada Onyeka said the Christian Prayer.
The Chairman, in her opening remarks appreciated all participants in attendance. In her remarks she noted that issues of women and peace have become a global issue as women and children are more vulnerable during conflict. Alice Stephen Wells was the first Police woman in the world. She introduced crime prevention in policing. She traced the progressive growth, initially to women police were only allowed in soft areas, but now, women are in all areas of the police including the mobile police. She noted the roles of women in fostering peace and the need for women to be allowed in all levels of peace resolution.
First Paper was on the Implication of Corruption on the Peace and Security of Women by Farida Waziri ably represented by Chinwe Ndubueze. She defined corruption and considered its causes and implication on the peace and security of women. Corruption is a global problem which manifests itself in varying degrees and pervasiveness. However, corruption affects women more disproportionately than men. It affects their access to decision making position, protection and advancement of human rights, access to social amenities and infrastructure, the health of women, the next generation, moral decadence, security, war and crimes.
The Second Paper was on “Violence Against Women: An Impediment to Development –What Solution?” by Josephine Effah Chukwuma, ED Project Alert on VAW. She defined violence and development and note that it is a universal issue. It can occur anywhere and has many manifestations. She identified the different types of violence against women. VAW is a major obstacle to development. She suggested that there is need to move from rhetoric to action as there are enough international documents. What is needed is implementation of all the laws, declarations, policies and to introduction of a regime of victim protection.
Third Paper: “Women in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations: Charting a Path for Equity” by Mrs. Oby Nwankwo Executive Director of Civil Resource Development And Documentation Centre ( CIRDDOC) Mrs. Nwankwo narrated the stories of some victims of rape during the Odi and Choba Crises. From the paper, there is no doubt that women are abused during conflict, participate in conflict and are not included during the peace building process. There exist a large list of instruments on violence against women; what is actually required is implementation. Women should be involved in peace building and conflict resolutions.
The Chairman summarized all the papers and gave very useful security tips before calling for comments and questions.
Chigoziri Orjiaka Chairperson FIDA Lagos calls on FIDA branches to call for law reforms. Draws the attention of EFCC in the area of constituency funds where they get a lot of money and do nothing with it.
Ada Onyeka from FIDA spoke on kidnapping and that the Police failed her. What is to be done?
FIDA Rivers: Does uniform remove morality and fear of God from men in uniform?
Chairperson FIDA Kano: A 3 years old girl was raped by a Policeman in Kano. I suggest that FIDA and other NGOs should collaborate to see that the budget of the Ministries of Education and Women Affairs are implemented.
Betty Luma FIDA Cameroun: On VAW, we should engage the men who are perpetrators by naming and shaming them.
Prisca Chikwendu: On VAW, is there a situation that will justify the beating of a woman by a man?
The FIDA Niger Chairperson challenged the notion that women are less corrupt by citing the example of women custom officers making demands at the airports.
FIDA Kebbi Chairperson shared the success stories of FIDA Kebbi in fighting violence against women.
Wanagho, FIDA Delta, Vice Chairperson commented on a case of rape of three female siblings aged between 3-12 by their neighbor. After the matter was reported, their father came and withdrew the case.
Dr. Lizzy Oji, FIDA Enugu Chairperson urged that we also look into the violence in our homes against girls. He cited a case they are handling where a woman tied her house girl up, poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze.
Responses: The resource persons agreed that:
Men should be involved in the fight against violence against women.
There is no reason to justify VAW; and
We need to give age appropriate messages and sex education to our daughters to curb sexual abuse.
The AIG promised to re-open the kidnap case and made it clear that uniform should not affect the morals of a Policeman. They give lectures to the Police on behavior. She encouraged victims to always complain as there is easier access to the higher authorities now. The other comments and questions were appreciated and the AIG promised to look into them.
The session came to an end by 2:20 with the Chairman thanking all participants.
The International President of FIDA, Mrs. Stella Ugboma acted as the Chairman for this session. The first presenter Mrs. Eugenia Abu, broadcaster presented the paper titled “Grooming the next Generation Imperatives for Success”. She noted that mentoring is a norm in our society that is fast fading. She insisted that kindness and charity should always be added to hardwork. Mentoring is a selfless service and everywoman must see herself as a mother to anybody under her and the best part of mentoring is by example.
There were many comments asking how older persons can mentor when they require mentoring themselves. Dr. Lizzy Oji suggested that the educational system should be addressed. Mrs. Abu reiterated that the problem is with parenting and we must not hand over our parenting roles to teachers.
The second presentation was by Judge Ekua Kuenyelia of the International Criminal Court on the ICC/IBA Campaign: The International Criminal Court/International Bar Association. She first took us through the structure of the ICC and the functions of the various organs and divisions of the court.
She is on a campaign calling African lawyers to join team of lawyers practicing at the Hague. There are many Africans charged at the ICC and they need counsel. The special need for women lawyers is that female victims of war crimes will trust to speak to women lawyers than men.
Mr. Estaban Peralta Losilla took participants through the procedure for application.
Jasmine from Sierra Leone raised the issue of the dress code in the court. The female lawyer is compelled to try to dress like the male lawyers and not able to dress as women. Also she said that the special court for Sierra Leone has not been really accepted by the Sierra Leonean women.
Chairperson, FIDA Oyo asked to know the type of criminal cases that are handled by the ICC.
Judge Ekua Kuenyehia listed the crimes within the jurisdiction of the court as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
On the dress code, she pointed out that the weather makes it impracticable to wear African clothes. If the court is taken elsewhere, perhaps that will be possible.
The 3rd presenter, Chief (Mrs.) Sarah Jibril, Presidential aspirant gave a paper on “Ethics and Values as a Way of Life in a Decaying Society”. She said that we must contribute to restore the ethical standards in our society. She encouraged women to join the politics in order to contribute to their intellect.
Addressing some of the controversies she said most of controversies that may arise are usually done out of ignorance. You must settle to have effective dialogue. We must settle to have effective dialogue. We must remain teachers and mentors being versatile and successfully multi-tasking. She suggested raising FIDA mentors with Borders.
On the issue of dressing right to avoid being victims of rape, she suggested that we must not send the wrong signals by our dressing. She concluded with a call on women never to relent.
The session came to an end by 6:30pm. Vote of thanks by Chairperson of FIDA Kebbi, Mrs. Halima Aliyu.