AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION

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Amanda Dakouré

Senior Legal Counsel at African Development Bank

Why did you decide to study law?

I am a very curious person and for as long as I can remember, I have always been inquisitive with a deep desired to learn and share that knowledge with others. Studying law gave me the privilege of knowing the rights and obligations in society and allowed me to inform others of their rights and obligations. That is why I decided to study law, knowledge is power and by giving power to people, you empower them.

What is your proudest professional moment thus far?

Working in Africa had always been a dream of mine. I was born and raised in Canada, I had been a few times in Burkina Faso (my country of origin) and had always been curious about living and working on the continent. When I found an opportunity in Ivory Coast, I took it without hesitation. Having managed to adapt and thrive in a pan African context is one of my proudest accomplishments because it has taught me tremendously both personally and professionally.

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Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?

I would not have taken or done anything differently. Every decision I made led me to where I am today, and I would not change any of it.

Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.

Women in law, face and continue to face many professional challenges. However, challenges are meant to make us stronger. A salient challenge that I can observe regularly in the profession is the lack of diversity at the senior management level. Diversity is not only about race, gender and sexual orientation but about minority representation. If people on top do not have commonalities with the minority, inclusion becomes difficult, while recognition and progression seem unattainable. Mentorship can be a key part of the solution to the problem of inclusion and diversity and that is why I encourage all women to find mentors, people you look up to and admire, to seek advice and guidance.

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What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?

My practical advice to living your best life is to work hard and efficiently. By efficiently, I mean to be organized and to manage your time effectively to always find time to exercise, to eat well, and to keep a mental balance by doing what makes you happy. A more strategic advice is to invest in human relationship because it is very important to build a network in the legal profession.