Wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode has urged lawyers to evolve new ways of making more progress on gender equality, women development and child welfare, saying that no society can achieve rapid development when children and women are relegated to the background.
Speaking at the African Women Lawyers Association’s parley, held at Victoria Island, Lagos, as part of activities marking the Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mrs. Ambode said it was important for members of the legal profession, especially the women among them to be at the vanguard of championing the course of issues relating to the welfare and development of women and children.
The wife of the Governor, who was decorated as Matron and Mother of the African Child at the parley, also lauded the contributions of women lawyers towards improvements recorded in child and women rights in the State, the country and the continent.
She said children and women in Nigeria and Africa faced a brighter future because of steady progress recorded in the area of their rights, noting that it was gratifying that Lagos State was the first to pass the Child Rights Law, following the footprints of the Federal Government.
Aside the Child Rights Law, Mrs. Ambode said it is on record that the State had also passed a law against domestic violence.
According to her, “Lagos State has taken proactive steps in this direction. It was the first State in the country to pass the Child Rights Law after the Federal Government pioneered the process in 2003. Under the law, children are fully protected and those who infringe on those rights are apprehended and prosecuted.
“The State also has a law in place against domestic violence. The law protects women and children against all forms of violence in the home. Through these laws, Lagos State has ensured that women and children are reasonably insulated from reckless rights infringements with impunity.”
Also speaking, Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, represented by Mrs. Abiola Soladoye, praised the contributions of women lawyers to the growth of legal practice, just as she urged them to reinvent themselves and translate their numerical strength to positive actions.
In her welcome address, President of the association, Mrs. Mandy Demechi-Asagba, noted that the group stood for the protection, promotion and presentation of the rights and interest of women and children in Nigeria and Africa, stressing that they condemned all forms of violence against women, including sexual assault, child molestation, rape, child marriage, genital mutilation, abduction and other forms of discrimination and violence against them.
She said: “The association seeks to change the course of the 21st century, addressing key challenges as inequality, poverty and violence against women and girls, and stressed that violence against women and children is at its peak and requires emergency, desperate, deliberate and purposeful action before it consumes all.”
On her part, the guest speaker, Mrs. Nana Oye Lithur, who noted that child marriage was a global issue, urged the Nigerian chapter of the association to take the lead in the push for new laws to protect the rights of women and the girl-child from barbaric practices.
The parley was attended by prominent women lawyers including the first woman Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Lady Folake Sholanke.