Court Judge urges women to strive to be competitive

A judge of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Dupe Atoki has urged women to strive to be competitive by empowering themselves using the opportunities at their disposal so that they can overcome the societal obstacles militating against the full realization of their potentials and participation in the development of the society.

“Let us not in the process of being fixated with the discrimination against us, lose the opportunities for improving ourselves that will make us more competitive through training and a change of attitude so we are better equipped to contribute to the development of our society,’ she said at a dinner organized by the women’s forum of the Court to mark the international women’s day on Sunday, 8th March 2020.

Justice Atoki, a former Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, said that she was not unmindful of the challenges faced by women, some of them unsurmountable but  advised that we ‘ should do whatever we can wherever we find ourselves to improve ourselves.’

“Rights are not always given and sometimes you have to take it by force, ‘she said at the occasion which was attended by members of the forum and their guests and commended the executive of the forum for the magnitude of the occasion.

She urged women to ‘find areas they can exploit for self-actualization and optimize their potentials’ without relying on sympathy and support while avoiding contentment with the existing stereotypes.

The judge also served as Special rapporteur on women at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

Also inducted as patron was Justice Januaria Tavares Silva Moreira Costa, the second female judge of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.

Earlier, the chairperson of the forum, Mrs. Frances Ibanga said its mandate is to engage in humanitarian actions, advocate for and promote gender equality as well as campaign and promote for the implementation of international, regional and national legal frameworks aimed at guaranteeing gender equality.

 She said that the theme of this year’s celebration I am a generation equality: realizing women’s rights aligns with the UN’s women’s new multigenerational campaign, citing various cases instituted by women, civil society and non-governmental organisations, including those by prominent women in the region.

“This is therefore a wakeup call on all women to refrain from accepting and enduring various violations but to seek justice where necessary,’ she said, urging women to close ranks and speak in unison so that they can truly forge a common agenda that will enable women make a difference.

The guest speaker on the occasion, Mrs. Florence Iheme had in her presentation described the celebration as an occasion to ‘evaluate ECOWAS gender empowerment engagement in order to reset the dial through various initiatives both at the Court and the ECOWAS Commission.

In this regard, she urged the Court to ensure that women and men occupy leadership positions as this strengthens mentorship and complementarity; prioritize work-life balance to ensure a fair distribution of labour that encourages women to reach their career goals; institute a gender focal point; engage the Commission for the establishment of a gender management system; institute effective policies against harassment and develop a mechanism for monitoring compliance.

In addition, Mrs. Iheme who recently retired from the ECOWAS Commission, called on the Court to engage the Commission for the alteration of the recruitment practices to improve gender diversity through a gender diverse recruitment panel, incorporating gender inclusive succession plan and ensuring fair compensation practices through the provision of a conducive working environment.

As part of the celebration, the women had on Saturday 7th March 2020, undertaken a walk as part of its contribution to the creation of awareness about its health benefit.