AMANDLA! WOMEN TO WATCH EDITION
Eki Yemisi Omorogbe, Ph.D.
Lecturer in Law, University of Leicester
Founder and Co-chair, International Law and Policy in Africa Network (ILPAN)
Why did you decide to study law?
By my 13th birthday, I was fixed on getting a doctorate in Law. I had decided to model myself on two maternal uncles I adored and admired. One of these had completed his postgraduate degree in Mathematical Statistics at the University of Cambridge - his undergraduate degree in Maths was at Imperial College London. The other was studying law at the University of Buckingham. As it had become apparent to me that my mathematical skills were limited, I chose to follow the latter. The decision seemed natural, perhaps because I had other maternal relatives in the legal profession.
What is your proudest professional moment thus far?
Being called to the Bar in Nigeria, because it made my father and grandparents happy and my grandfather told me how lucky he felt to be alive to see me in my wig and gown. There are other proud moments, including my nomination as a Woman to Watch in Law.
Looking back, what is one decision/action you would have done differently?
I worked in the City of London for a while in the insurance industry, including as an underwriter of professional indemnity claims - I was the first black underwriter at General Accident. I am grateful for those opportunities, so no regrets. However, practising or researching law is my great love.
Share some major professional challenges you have faced, or continue to face as a woman in law.
My research area is International Law and armed conflicts (with particular focus on Africa) and I also taught the Law of Armed Conflict. These are male-dominated areas. Some people, having read my work, are surprised to meet me. I once had to convince someone of my identity...
What are some practical strategies for survival in the legal profession?
Some people underrate women and avoid giving them the same opportunities as men. That happened to me and I regret that I failed to challenge it. If it happens to you, do not give up, trust your knowledge and your body of work and challenge inequality.