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Distinguished Personalities, Colleagues, Friends & Supporters of Women,


I consider it a great honour and privilege to welcome this distinguished audience to the 2023 International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Africa Regional Congress, holding here in Abuja, Nigeria. The Africa Regional Congress is a triennial event which usually offers a significant opportunity for us FIDA members to converge, interact, exchange information, and share lessons. We also get to learn new strategies that will help us in actualizing our mission and continue with our campaigns as well as various activities geared towards improving the status and overall well-being of women and children in the Continent.

It is pertinent to state that FIDA Africa under the auspices of FIDA International exists to connect, collaborate, support, encourage and engage FIDA members across Africa to focus on FIDA’s mission. This is to promote, protect, and preserve the rights, interests and well-being of women and children in our societies through the instrumentality of the law. By building a strong and vibrant platform that speaks to issues at the regional or continental levels and collaborating across divides to promote regional cooperation and deepen continental integration, FIDA Africa strives to meet this need.

Women and girls have lagged behind in terms of rights recognition and socio-economic advancement. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic worsened their plight, particularly in the poorer regions of the world. This situation therefore highlights the need to promote their socio-economic and legal rights as a means of enhancing overall societal wellbeing. In many regions plagued by inadequate resources, the use of digital tools minimized the challenges associated with providing social services to the citizens. Indeed, it is observed that digital technology usage is intensifying, and proactive governments and institutions are building the capacity of their workforces to become more technology savvy in order to address the gaps in social welfare. FIDA Africa is not left out as it is also prioritizing the needs of women and girls who continue to be impacted heavily by the pandemic and other issues.

The theme of the Africa Regional Congress, “MAPUTO PROTOCOL AND WOMEN IN AFRICA: DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AS A VITAL TOOL FOR ACCELERATION” has been carefully chosen to reflect the mood of the moment. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, better known as the Maputo Protocol, was adopted by the African Union in July 2023. It is considered to be one of the most progressive instruments internationally in terms of providing for and protecting the human rights of women and girls. As the Protocol hits the 20-year mark, the Congress is an appropriate forum to deliberate on “Maputo Protocol @ 20: An Assessment of the Past, Present and Future”. In recognition of the vital role of technology in advancing the interests of women and girls in Africa in today’s world, the Congress will focus on the interplay between the rights guaranteed in the Protocol and how they can be enhanced using digital technology. We will consequently, also deliberate on other interesting

topical subjects including:

  • Gender Justice & the Rule of Law: The Place of Inclusion and Digital Technology.Promoting Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment Through Digital Technology; Information and Finance Strategies.
  • ICT & Digital Education: The Way Forward;
  • Education, Using Cutting-Edge Technology: A Sine Qua Non for Gender Equality in Africa;
  • Violence Against Women: Is Digitalization Accelerating Prevention and Protection?;
  • Engaging Men & Women Towards Gender Equity, Equality & Inclusion in the Public Space;
  • Unlocking the Power of Digital Branding, Building Online Presence & Strategies for Protection Against Cyber-Bullying/Digital Pornography;
  • Digital Tech Platforms & Opportunities for Accelerating Investment for Women under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
  • Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).

Improving women’s rights is a precursor to their overall advancement in socio-economic and political spheres. The rise in technology tools offers a glaring opportunity to accelerate the robust empowerment of women and girls in Africa. Thus, FIDA appreciates the need to leverage digital tools to improve women’s participation. Indeed, FIDA is already making giant strides in this regard, to enhance cooperation with various actors in the continent, including regional/national/local FIDA chapters, national governments, civil society organisations, the private sector and international and local donor agencies. We can only get better as we engage through the instrumentality of fora such as this Congress.

As we participate in the 2023 Africa Regional Congress therefore, let us reflect on the trajectory of FIDA Africa’s journey. Let us consider how we as individuals or corporate bodies can intentionally be at the frontiers of accelerating the empowerment of African women and girls and ultimately, the world at large. We have come a long way both literally and figuratively. As lawyers who are charged with the premium responsibility of promoting the welfare of the vulnerable amongst us, we have a duty to our beliefs, passion and ethos as well as our profession, to take decisive action. The time to do so is now!

Welcome to the 2023 FIDA Africa Regional Congress.

Long live the Women and Girls of Africa! Long Live FIDA Africa!

Mrs. Joy C. Ejim (formerly Joy Ezeigbo)

Regional Vice President Africa (North & West)