BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA

The Nigerian government has been advised to diligently implement international instruments intended to advance the well-being of women and children.

This call was made at the 50th anniversary of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, organized by the Lagos chapter of the group in Lagos.

Arguing that women empowerment was key to national development, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and member, FIDA, Mrs.Funke Adekoya, noted that Nigeria was yet to domesticate the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women- CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, nearly 20 years after the Beijing Women Conference and 15 years after the Millennium Summit.

Mercifully, though, the Supreme Court recently struck down harmful practices bothering on widowhood and inheritance rights, paving a way for a new vista in the vindication of child and women’s rights, Funke said while delivering a paper titled ‘50 years of Promoting Child and Women’s Rights’.

Reaffirming the plight of women, Mrs.Eliana Martins, Chairperson, FIDA Lagos, noted that it had become pertinent for FIDA to reposition itself to address the challenges facing women in Nigeria.

“As we are celebrating our 50th anniversary with the theme ‘50 Years of Investing in Women and Children’ and looking at what we have done towards promoting the rights of women and children, we are also challenging ourselves for repositioning, considering current challenges being faced by women and children in our society.

“Look at the plight of the abducted Chibok school girls and you’ll understand government has failed in its responsibility to provide security for women and girls, particularly those in school. If the multiplier effects of this, which is parents withdrawing children from school, must be curtailed, then we must revisit the drawing board”, Eliana said.

Recounting some of  FIDA’s accomplishments, she said: “FIDA Nigeria has over 34 branches and each of these branches is working seriously to tackle diverse issues affecting women and children in their communities.
Assistant Secretary, FIDA Lagos, and Chairperson, FIDA at 50 Anniversary Committee, Barr(Mrs.)Phil Nneji, said the theme ‘50 Years of Investing in Women and Children’, signified what FIDA stood for.

“As part of events for this anniversary, we are visiting the Kirikiri Female Prison and for some of them who have no help, we are giving pro bono legal aid to facilitate their freedom. Other activities include outreaches to public schools where we will construct public school toilets”, Phil said.

The event was attended by the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Lagos State, Hon.Justice Amina Augie; Prof.(Mrs.)Animi Awah; Mrs.Adesuwa Onyenokwe and the Catholic Women Organisation.  Students from Senior College Ikoyi; Wahab Folawiyo Senior High School; Handmaids International School and Goodnews Nursery/Primary School among others, also spiced the celebration with debates and an essay competition on the place of women in national development.

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