GENDER EQUITY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE ARE AT THE HEART OF PRO BONO AND CSR AT BOWMANS
As violence against women and children continues to cast a shadow over Africa, it is clear that a concerted effort, involving every sector and segment of society, is required to defeat this scourge.
In line with this, African law firm Bowmans has made support for vulnerable women and children a core component of its pro bono and CSR strategy.
‘This is a time in the history of Africa when sitting on the sidelines and waiting for others to act is not an option for those who wish to see prosperity, peace and social justice prevail,’ says Robert Legh, Bowmans chairman and senior partner. ‘Our vision as a firm is based on a foundation of gender equity, non-racialism, multiculturalism and the embracing of diversity in all its forms.’
In the 2019-20 financial year, Bowmans intensified its pro bono focus on protecting the legal rights of vulnerable women and children, as well as the rights of marginalised groups such as refugees and shack dwellers. In some cases, this entailed assisting individuals or communities with legal advice and litigation, while in others it took the form of rights empowerment through training and development. Bowmans also provided legal assistance to various NGOs, particularly those working with women, children and the youth in Southern and East Africa.
According to Fatima Laher, head of Pro Bono at the firm, Bowmans invested almost 11 000 hours valued at about ZAR 26.6 million in pro bono work during the past financial year (which ended on 29 February 2010).
In the sphere of CSR, support for women, children and the youth was also strongly in evidence. Laher says, ‘Staff across our offices rallied round campaigns such 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence and International Mandela Day, while also initiating their own regional projects to support orphaned and abandoned children, children with intellectual or other disabilities and youth literacy, sport and music, among others’.
Laher concludes, ‘Our 2019-20 annual report [which can be downloaded here] attests to our commitment to be part of the solution Africa is calling for at this crucial time in its history’.