By. Pedi Obani, Ph.D.
As part of our commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we highlight the work of women in law who have been advocating for gender justice.
Professor Oluyemisi Adefunke Bamgbose, is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a distinguished professor of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Human Rights at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She is also the Director of the Women’s Law Clinic at the University of Ibadan, in addition to her other leadership roles in several national and sub-national law reform committees and professional organizations. In this interview with Dr. Pedi Obani, Professor Bamgbose, SAN shares highlights of the origins, vision and mission achievements, and future outlook of the Women’s Law Clinic (WLC).
Pedi Obani,Ph.D. (PO): Tell us about the Women’s Law Clinic.
Prof. Oluyemisi Bamgbose, SAN (OB): The Women’s Law Clinic (WLC) is located in the Faculty of Law, University of Ibadan. The Women’s Law Clinic, University of Ibadan, is established to be a specialised Law Clinic for women-related issues. It caters for children and also men who have women-related issues. The Clinic embarks on outreach from time to time on educating and enlightening women and children within select communities on the inherent degrees of domestic violence, and how knowledge of rights could lead to safety. The WLC is headed by a Clinic Director and supported by an Assistant Director and thirteen other Staff Clinicians.The Clinic is made up of Staff Clinicians (law lecturers), who serve as Clinic supervisors, and Student Clinicians who are law students of the Faculty of Law. These students are trained in the areas of street lawyering, client counseling and interviewing, drafting and advocacy skills. This training gives the students a platform to put into practice the theoretical knowledge of law acquired in class. Staff Clinicians supervise the student clinicians whose activities are regulated by a clinic administrator.
PO: How was the idea of the Women’s Law Clinic conceived? And when did the Women’s Law Clinic commence operations?
OB: The Women’s Law Clinic is an initiative of the Consortium for Development Partnerships (CDP) and was under the CDP Project on The Rule of Law Access to Justice. The CDP is a research organization linking different research institutes in West Africa, Europe and the US. It aims to develop a research programme that is policy relevant, build research capacity within the institutes involved and further research collaboration between the different institutes and researchers. It was founded by CODESRIA (Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa) and the Programme of African Studies at Northwestern University in the United States of America. Sequel to the mandate of the Consortium for Development Partnerships (CDP) Phase II project which is the research component of the rule of law and access to justice, the Women’s Law Clinic was initially funded by the Northwestern University, Illinois, United States of America and in partnership with the Centre for Law and Social Action (CLASA). The project was identified and aimed at contributing to improve legal education, providing legal aid and representation to (indigent) women and improving research on access to justice as it affected women in Ibadan and its environs. Ibadan is the capital city of Oyo State in the South-west region of Nigeria. The WLC started operating on the 17th of July, 2007.
The Women’s Law Clinic was established as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in the University of Ibadan, in good faith, to address the peculiar legal needs of indigent women in the University community and its environs. After a number of deliberations and preliminary investigations into the needs of the community of Ibadan, it was discovered that the indigent women of Ibadan have very poor access to justice.
PO: What is the vision of t