The  Women forum of the ECOWAS Court of Justice is organising a  day-long training on «  Career progression and sexual harassment in the workplace, » on the second day of its two-day elaborate activities to mark the 2023 International Women’s Day.

The training, which is scheduled for Thursday, 9th March 2023, is being facilitated by a team of UN Women staff led by the Ending Violence against Women Specialist.

The opening of the observance on Wednesday, 8th March 2023 was marked by goodwill messages from the Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission, the ECOWAS Parliament, the ECOWAS Commission, the UN Women, the Director of the ILO Country Office, the Representative of the host government and statements from the Patron of the Forum, Justice Dupe Atoki and the President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante.

In her speech at the opening, the President of the Forum, Mrs Frances Ibanga said the  event is in furtherance of its role  to engage in humanitarian actions, advocate for and promote gender equality as well as promote and campaign for the implementation of International, Regional and National legal frameworks for ensuring gender equality.

In this regard, she said the forum has embarked on sensitization campaigns to enlighten the public and indigent women on their rights and access to the  Court.

She explained that this years observance, which is being celebrated under the theme : « Digit ALL : Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality, » is designed to « celebrate the women who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education. » Morover, the theme will explore the impact of digital gender gap on widening economics and social inequalities and aims to highlight the importance of protecting the rights of women in digital spaces in a bid to address ICT gender-based violence.

« As technology advances, we see a wide digital divide between genders and this digital divide has become the new face of gender inequality » she stated noting that these growing inequalities are becoming increasingly évident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, » she added, citing the UN data for 2022 which showed that 37 per cent of women dont use the internet while only 22 per cent  of positions in artificial intelligence are held by women.

She blamed this on the exclusion of women from technological advancements, due to structural issues like poverty, gender discrimination and digital illiteracy and called for the strenghtening of the campaign to address this gap by reemphasising the value of the pursuit of gender equality with emphasis on the creation of equal opportunities to all human , irrespective of gender noting that « the rise of women is not about the fall of men ».

In his welcome remarks,  the Vice President of the Court, Justice Gberi-bè Ouattara described the event as ‘historic,’ and traced its origin to a demonstration in 1909 for women’s suffrage organized by the National Women’s Committee of the American Socialist Party, adding that the dynamics has changed over as the challenges and concerns as well as obstacles to the fulfillment of women have multiplied.

Justice Quattara, who represented the President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante at the ceremony, said that the observance has transformed into a day of action, awareness and mobilization dedicated to the fight for women’s rights, equality and justice.

Regardless of the achievements and progress the campaign has achieved, the Vice President said  “ we must not forget that everywhere in the world, every day and at every moment, without distinction of race, religion, opinion or thought, while many women still live in precarious conditions, are mistreated, permanently humiliated, and sometimes abandoned with their offspring by irresponsible men without access to the bare minimum.

Justice Quattara assured the women of the Court’s unwavering commitment to the objectives behind the observance such as magnifying women and reminding us that the fight continues for as long as there exists one girl and one woman whose rights are ignored, flouted or violated.

In her goodwill message, Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline K. Tallen, said that a gender responsive approach to innovation, technology and digital education can increase the awareness  of women and girls regarding their rights and civic engagement.  In the speech which was delivered by Mrs. Gloria Onwuzirike, the Minister  noted that advancements in digital technology offer immense opportunities to address development and humanitarian challenges, and to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She noted that the opportunities offered by the digital revolution also risked perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality, adding that growing inequalities is becoming increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, with women being left behind as the result of this gender divide.

The Minister therefore called for inclusive transformative technology and digital education for a sustainable future.

In her keynote address, a judge of the Court, Justice Dupe Atoki stressed the value of  digital infrastructure in contemporary life and expressed regret over the marginalisation of women in digital education and urged them acquaint themselves of the new technology  and assuring them that they will overcome through determination and consistently raising their voice to be heard.

There were three presentations during the afternoon session of the opening day.  The first presentation was on the theme: Technological innovation and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls by Mrs Elizabeth Wuraola Kolade, a Cyber Security Professional. The second paper was on the Strategic positioning of women in the digital Age by Mrs. Titi Ojo, a business Consultant and Entrepreneurship Development Pratictioner  while the third paper on Gender Equity in the Workplace was delivered by a representative of the UN to Nigeria.

The vote of thanks was delivered by, Justice Sengu Mohamed Koroma  of the Court who thanked the Women’s Forum and the presenters  for their insightful presentations and contributions. He also posed the the question : « What would we have become without the tender care of our mothers ? » , and concluded with the expression : «  Aluta Continua ! » , in encouraging all the women in the world never to give up but to continue figthing for their rights as human beings.