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Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (Oon), former Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children

Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo is a lawyer, feminist and scholar/activist. She earned a post graduate degree in law (LLM) from Queen Mary College, University of London, and a BL from the Nigerian Law School. She is a Senior Lecturer and teaches law at the University of Nigeria (Enugu Campus). She attended the International Institute of Human Rights and the International Centre for University Teaching of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. She holds a diploma in gender studies and also a diploma in peace studies and conflict resolution from CODESRIA, Dakar and the Uppsala University, Sweden. 

Joy Ezeilo, was appointed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children in June 2008 and held the office from August 2008 to 2011. 

She has served Nigerian governments at both the state and federal levels in different capacities; notably as the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Enugu State (2003-2004), and a federal delegate to the National Political Reform Conference. Recently, she was appointed by the Honourable Attorney General and the Minister for Justice to chair the Committee drafting a Bill Elimination of Violence and by the Enugu State Governor as a member of the Governing Council of Citizen’s Rights and Mediation Center, Enugu. 

Joy Ezeilo is actively involved in the Civil Society Movement in Nigeria particularly in the areas of human rights, democracy and good governance. She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Aid Collective (WACOL), a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the human rights of women and young people. She is the Convener of the South East Women Network (SEWNET), and the founder and moderator of the West African Women Rights Coalition (WAWORC) and has under that mandate initiated the “Say No to Violence Against Women and Girls Campaign” among others.

Joy Ezeilo is a recipient of the prestigious British Chevening scholarship and a grantee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Funds for Leadership Development. She has also received several national and international awards, including the International Visitors Award of the African Studies Association, USA (2001); the Peace Service Award from the African Center for Peace & Conflict Resolution, California State University, Sacramento  for her pro bono legal aid work for poor and vulnerable women and girls (April:2006); the Community Service Awards from Rotary International, Soroptimist International, and the Rotaract Club;  and the Outstanding Performance Award from the Ezeagu Local Government Council, Enugu State. 

In 2003, His Royal Highness Igwe G. Eko of Ihe installed her as Chief Ada Eji Eje Mba I  of Ihe and  in 2004, His Royal Highness Igwe J. Nnaji conferred on her the Ochendo title for her humanitarian work in Nigeria and beyond. She was invested with Peace Service Award by the California State University, Sacramento in April 2006. Recently, her LGA- Ezeagu (October 2006) honored her with another Chieftaincy title- Nne Ezeagu.

In 1999, Joy Ezeilo was a Fellow-in-Residence at the Humanities Research Institute, University of California, Irvine and in 2001, she was invited to the University of California, Riverside, as a Regent Professor. She has served as a consultant/trainer in human rights, gender issues, governance and conflict resolution to many international and national organizations including Nigerian Judicial Institute (NJI), UNDP, UNIFEM, UNICEF, USAID, MACARTHUR FOUNDATION, UNFPA, Federal Ministry Of Health, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (MDG Fund), CRLP (now Center for Reproductive Rights), OSIWA, CODESRIA, British Council, Global Rights, Partners for Justice (formerly International Human Rights Law Group, DFID: Security Justice & Growth (SJG), and Partnership For Transformation Of Health System (PATHS), SRIP/EU, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Abuja, Open Society Initiative For Southern Africa (OSISA), Center for Democracy and Development, West Africa (CDD) etc.

She pioneered the teaching of the course, “Women, Children and the Law,” at the University of Nigeria since 1997 and also the adoption of a curriculum and the teaching of Health Law/Reproductive Rights in Nigerian Universities through her organization WACOL. She has published extensively in the areas of human rights, women and children’s rights, and health law, including HIV and AIDS, in Nigeria and Africa in general.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to nation building in the area of legal scholarship, advocacy, civil society movement and community service, Ms. Joy Ezeilo, popularly called Ochendo, was conferred with the National honor of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) by Mr. President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCFR) in December 2006.

Joy Ezeilo is married to a medical doctor, Augustine Ezenta Ezeilo, who is the Enugu State Director of Public Health. They have three children—Chidulue, Nnenna and Onyinye. Ezeilo’s hobbies include travelling, reading and dancing.