On behalf of the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, I wish to congratulate our women on this year’s observance of the International Women’s Day, a day dedicated globally to celebrating the historical, cultural and political achievements of women. It is also a day of action in support of taking action against gender inequality around the world.

Understandably, this year’s observance is being celebrated around the theme of Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world to draw attention to the ravages of the ongoing pandemic and the concomitant adaptations that are needed in forging a post Covid-19 world.

The challenges of equality are quite formidable but not insurmountable. This is borne out by the evidence in the Court, where four of its six Presidents, including the first President, have been women. Indeed, two of the current five judges of the court are women who have contributed immeasurably to the distinction attained by the Court as an exemplar among regional courts in Africa.

Unfortunately, the representation of women within the staff cadre, with only about 30 per cent, is not encouraging attributable to a host of factors. Neither is the number of cases filed by women, a mere 50 which represents about 9.96 per cent of the 502 cases filed since the inception of the Court reflective of their demography although a lot of other cases related to women’s rights were filed by NGO’s

Despite this worrisome number, the ECOWAS Court has been in the vanguard for the protection of the rights of women in the context of its mandate as a human rights Court exemplified by two cases where women were deemed to have been unfairly targeted- Hadijatou Mani Karaou V. The Republic of Niger   and Dorothy Chioma Njemanze & 3 Ors V. Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In the discharge of its human rights mandate as it relates to women, the court has been guided by at least eight International Legal Instruments specifically on the human rights of women as well as other issues relating to women which are applicable before the ECOWAS Court.

As you celebrate this year’s international women’s day, I wish to reassure our women of the commitment of the management of the Court to address issues that militate against the higher representation of women albeit in the medium and long term. I also wish to use this opportunity to challenge our women, who suffer disproportionately from harmful traditional and other practices as well as human rights violations and discrimination, to see the court as an ally in the effort to attain an equal future in which they can defy the artificial glass ceiling and realise their dreams based on their capability and hard work and not tokenism.

Happy international women’s day 2021.

Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante,

President, Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS