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PRESS RELEASE: IAWL to Launch Four Country Reports on Women in Law and Leadership

16th January 2023

The Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) announces the launch of four country reports on Women in Law and Leadership in the legal profession to inform policy actions.

The reports summarize the empirical findings on women in law and leadership in four African countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Senegal. Apart from Senegal, which has a consolidated report, three reports were generated from each country across three sectors of the legal profession: the bar (lawyers), the bench (judges), and the legal academy (professors).

The Women in Law and Leadership initiative by the Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) is crucial because of the legal system’s unique role in addressing gender-based discrimination. Women’s unique perspectives, participation, and leadership in the justice system can be valuable in achieving goal number five (#5) of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on gender equality by ensuring the specific interests and priorities of women are represented in decision-making processes.

The research explored the points of attrition in the pipeline, barriers to retention, facilitators of promotion, and progress and trends regarding women’s representation in the legal profession through an intersectional feminist lens.

Data for the reports were collected through a mixed-methods approach, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, including semi-structured interviews and a survey questionnaire. Across the three sectors in the four nations, barriers to women’s entry and rise to leadership and points of attrition for retention were categorized at three levels: institutional, structural, and individual.

Institutional barriers are those norms, practices, and rules at legal institutions that hinder women’s leadership, including biased hiring and promotion policies, unequal pay, sexual harassment, lack of mentors, and gender biases and stereotypes. Structural barriers are sociocultural norms, practices, and stereotypes, such as systemic patriarchy, gendered norms, societal perceptions of women’s leadership, systemic infrastructural challenges, pervasive sexism, bullying and harassment. Individual barriers include age, gender, marital status, religion, ethnicity, and caregiving.

The reports also highlight COVID-19’s impact on women’s leadership pursuits, a mix of positive and negative implications largely based on individual personalities and circumstances.

The launch of the reports is happening in the four nations as follows:

  1. Nigeria, in collaboration with the Nigerian Bar Association Women Forum (NBAWF)- Wednesday, 18th January 2023, with Honourable Justice Amina Adamu Augie, CON, Justice of the Federal Supreme Court of Nigeria, as the Special Guest of Honour.

  2. South Africa, in collaboration with the South African Chapter of International Women Judges Association, Juta and Company- Tuesday, 24th January 2023, with Honourable Justice Mandisa Maya, Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa, as the Special Guest of Honour.

  3. Kenya, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Justice- Tuesday, 31st January 2023, with Chief Justice Martha Koome, Chief Justice of Kenya, as the Special Guest of Honour.

  4. Senegal- Thursday, 2nd March 2023

Key actors in the legal profession, including judges of superior courts of record, leading academics and top law firms, as well as diplomatic missions and philanthropic organizations, will be present at the launch in the four countries.

Copies of the report will be available on IAWL’s website for download after the launch.


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