Chief Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo (inset) addressing the participants.  Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
Chief Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo (inset) addressing the participants. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

Men urged to use privilege to foster greater gender equality — Panellists

Three legal practitioners have called on men to leverage their position and influence to create a more practical and equitable work environment that foster greater gender equality. 

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That, they said, should involve actively engaging more men as allies and advocates to support women in the practice of law across both private and public sectors. Those who made the call are Senior Partner at AB & David, Dr David Ofosu-Dorte, the Founder and Managing Partner, B & P Associates, Adelaide Benneh Prempeh and Senior Associate at Sam Okudzeto & Associates, Dr Edem Okudzeto.

They were speaking at a panel discussion in Accra last Friday (July 5) as part of  the launch of the gender equality in law campaign. The programme was organised by the Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Justice and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA).

The campaign raises awareness through evidence-based research and public advocacy about the challenges women in law face to ignite policy reforms for equitable and women-inclusive legal institutions.

Positions

Dr Ofosu-Dorte emphasised the importance of getting more founders of various law firms to understand the importance of creating a more practical environment for female legal practitioners to thrive since many of the law firms had men as founders.

The participants

The participants

In his law firm, for instance, management allowed female lawyers to bring their kids after 2 p.m. as part of practical measures to actualise the support given to women, he said.

Ms Prempeh explained that women simply wanted to be listened to and supported in the working environment.

“We simply want to be supported to bring our expertise on board and once you listen, it’s important that you as a male lead that effort to develop that gender equality atmosphere,” she said.

She underscored the need for men to have a zero-tolerance approach towards actions that affected the progress of women in the workplace adding; “Call out male allies for inappropriate behaviour, casting out a female colleague during contribution in a meeting”.

Dr Okudzeto said men could be brought on board by drawing experience from their relationship with their mothers, wives and daughters. “They can be empathic and they can then see where they are coming from to support,” he said.  

Campaign

The Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, who launched the campaign, highlighted Ghana’s efforts towards getting more women in the legal profession into leadership positions.

She said despite the strides, women in law and leadership continued to face unnecessary and daunting challenges on account of their gender. Some of the challenges, Justice Torkornoo said, included gender bias and toxic approaches to competition.

Nevertheless, she challenged women to remain steadfast in their commitment to law and justice, undeterred by external pressures. “My hope is that as justice delivery becomes guided with greater efficiency, women will feel enabled to give their best despite the peculiar challenges that we face in our roles as child bearers and primary caregivers of the human race,” she said.

She further commended the IAWL for setting itself up to support the work of formidable women in law across Africa and the African diaspora, and staying true and committed to its goal of becoming the focal point for addressing their challenges and issues.

Equal

A Board Member of IAWL, Elizabeth Adu, stressed the need for everyone to be given an equal opportunity to grow and lead.  “We look forward to working with you to ensure this campaign has the impact we desire. Let’s work together to make this happen,” she stressed.

For her part, the President of the Ghana Bar Association Women’s Forum, Sheila Minkah-Premo, called on law firms to provide mechanisms to address the discriminatory issues women faced in their line of work.

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