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To be a successful professional woman, you’ll make personal sacrifices -FIDA chair

Barrister Adata Bio-Briggs is an unwavering advocate for women’s and children’s rights. As the Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter, she stands at the forefront of combating domestic violence, gender-based discrimination, and various injustices faced by women globally.

Today, Iya Magazine explores her multifaceted career and unwavering commitment to empowering survivors of abuse.

Early life
Adata was born in the late 1970s. Her father, who was a naval commander, died in a plane crash when she was still very young. She was raised by her mother who instilled in her a profound sense of resilience and determination.

Fueled by her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer, she embarked on a remarkable educational journey. She obtained three degrees from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in Law at the same institution.

Adata obtained three degrees from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in law

“As a child, I used to admire my aunts, who were lawyers and judges. Also, the decision to become a lawyer was influenced by my profound hatred for injustice, particularly when it targets women. So, I have always wanted to be a voice for the voiceless.”

Career
According to American author Tony Robbins, there is a powerful driving force inside every human being that, once unleashed, can make any vision, dream, or desire become a reality.

Barrister Adata’s journey vividly demonstrates this power, as her unwavering determination led her to become a chartered mediator, conciliator, certified child protection specialist, and advocate for women’s and children’s rights.

Presently, she serves at the Rivers State Ministry of Justice and also holds the esteemed position of Chairperson at the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Nigeria, Rivers State Chapter.

FIDA is a global organization dedicated to tackling legal issues impacting women, including domestic violence, gender-based violence, and discrimination in all its forms. At the forefront of advocacy, FIDA plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about women’s rights, offering legal assistance, and actively contributing to the development of laws aimed at safeguarding and empowering women.

“Everyday, we receive many complaints at the office, and sometimes, 24 hours isn’t enough to handle all the work on my desk. Every case is unique, and there are some stories that would make you shed tears.

Adata is a chartered mediator, conciliator, certified child protection specialist, and advocate for women’s and children’s rights

“Should I talk about cases of toddlers that were sexually molested by their family members? What about women who were almost killed by their spouses? The stories extend to widows stripped of their rights and other countless inhumane acts that defy comprehension.

“After listening to a new case, I immerse myself in the shoes of the victims to comprehend their pain and take decisive action. In fact, our battle extends beyond legal proceedings; it’s a fight against human rights violations,” the lawyer contends.

Another crucial aspect of FIDA’s mission is to mediate conflicts within families and promote reconciliation. Additionally, members of the organization often spearhead awareness campaigns to educate the public. There was a time they went to a rural community to educate the people about the dangers of female genital mutilation. Thankfully, their efforts resulted in the eradication of the harmful practices.

To become a successful career woman, you have to make some sacrifices. Sometimes, it could mean sacrificing family time to attend to work responsibilities

Challenges
Pro bono organizations, despite their noble intentions and essential services, face several challenges. Barrister Adata said they often depend on donations and grants to run the organization. Sometimes, even the members contribute financially to support different projects.

Other major challenges she pointed out are the issues of security threats and corruption among law enforcement agents.

“Personally, I have received threats from individuals who were upset after losing a case. Even family members of those convicted of crimes sometimes threaten us for ensuring justice. Some resort to using diabolical means to intimidate us. However, I am grateful to God for His protection over our lives. I firmly believe that as long as we are fighting for a just cause, the enemy cannot harm us.

“Regarding corruption, we have encountered corrupt police officers and even lawyers who compromise the integrity of legal proceedings and impede the impartial administration of justice.

“To tackle this challenge, FIDA often organizes training for police officers and other security agencies. We also collaborate with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, the judiciary, and other relevant stakeholders in the criminal justice sector to achieve our goals.”

domestic abuse knows no boundaries and affects women from all walks of life

Motherhood and career
Barrister Adata is among the women who refused to let motherhood or marriage constrain their potential. When asked about balancing work and family responsibilities, she credits her husband as her primary support. He wholeheartedly supports her ambitions and steps in to manage household duties whenever she’s away for work or school.

“To become a successful career woman, you have to make some sacrifices. Sometimes, it could mean sacrificing family time to attend to work responsibilities. People call me late at night to report urgent cases, leaving me no choice but to take immediate action.

“I do all this because I find fulfillment in helping the weak and vulnerable. In the past, we have rescued young children trafficked for child labor purposes, and I still remember the joy on their faces when they were reunited with their families.

“In terms of awards and recognitions, I have received numerous accolades. Moreover, the genuine appreciation I receive from individuals whose lives have been touched through my selfless service brings immense joy to my heart.”

According to Barrister Adata, domestic abuse knows no boundaries and affects women from all walks of life. When asked to offer words of advice, especially for women in abusive relationships, she suggested that the first question such a woman should ask herself is, ‘Do I want to live for myself or die in the name of marriage?’

Taking a break from the abuser and assessing your options is crucial. Recognizing the role of financial independence in empowering women to exit abusive relationships, she urged all women to seek opportunities for self-empowerment and personal development.

Finally, she encouraged them to always speak out and report cases of abuse to the right authorities before it gets too late.

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