Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Women in Law Awards (WOZA), a unique initiative that recognises outstanding and innovative women lawyers in the country will be launched on February 28 at 5pm at The Pepper Club, Loop Street, Cape Town.
“There is no stand-alone award for women lawyers and I felt it was about time one was created to recognise and pay tribute the many successes of women in the professions,” said attorney Rehana Khan Parker, who conceptualised the idea. She has now created WOZA and explains that Woza is a Zulu word meaning “come” or “come aboard” while the words also serves as an acronym for Women of South Africa (ZA). WOZA is committed to transforming the legal profession in order to facilitate gender parity and will honour top women lawyers who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession. It will bring together winning trial lawyers, in-house legal counsel, thought leaders, innovators along with leaders from government and academia.
Khan Parker recalled that the idea was sparked when she attended a BRICS legal summit in Cape Town.
“You could count on one hand the number of women presenters. There was one from India and one from China; none from South Africa. There were also few women lawyers in the audience too,” she said. “There is a lot of trade happening between BRICS member states, but where are the women lawyers?” she asked.
As a result of this experience, she eventually plans to extend WOZA to the SADC countries and the BRICS countries.
But now she is concentrating on launching WOZA in South Africa with nominations opening on March 1. She is hoping that the awards teases out all women lawyers who do not actually practice in law firms any more, but apply their legal expertise in other fields. “There are women in academia who have written law books, there is a woman lawyer who runs a digital law company, there are in-house legal counsel, thought leaders, innovators and, people doing human rights and pro bono work,” she said. “I am hoping we can discover all those worthy women who are tucked away and whom we never heard about.”
She wondered where all the women law graduates “disappeared to” after qualifying. But she said that the biggest spin-off of all would be the establishment of a “Women-in-Law Leadership and Innovative Academy”, to develop dynamic and innovative change-makers and trailblazers.
The proceeds from the WOZA Awards gala event in Cape Town on August 1 will be used to develop the academy, which among other aims, to develop executive education courses to prepare women to be thought leaders and innovators.
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