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AWIEF charts gender balance as path for better future

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As the month of March has been earmarked to celebrate women, the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has stressed the need for workplace gender balance, at its business meeting held recently in Lagos. They stressed that having gender parity even with our African culture will further strengthen the place of women in nation building for a better tomorrow.

Speaking at the event, with the theme, “Gender for a Better Tomorrow,” the founder and CEO of AWEIF, Irene Ochem, said that men have an important role to play in gender balance agenda as there is a powerful case for cooperation and inclusivity, not exclusion. “It would be a mistake to foster an exclusionist view, where women are seen as outside of and almost intruding into male-dominated structures and institutions, and therefore tempted to form separatist organisations or networks that do not draw on men’s contributions.

“Neither of us can go it alone. Men and women have complementary roles to play in a nation’s development. We need a concerted and conscious drive to change mind-sets, to educate and inform in non-threatening ways so that even traditional and very conservative rural areas appreciate the importance of women. We need to continue to celebrate our role-models, highlight the successes and point out the significant benefits and advantages not only for women, but for society as a whole, for business and politics”, she added.

Also speaking, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer, GE Africa, Patricia Obozuwa stressed that some process has been made for gender balance, but unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done for anything to change, we have to take deliberate action. Clearly the systems, processes and strategies that have been used in the past have not yielded the required result, so we need to do something differently and we must be deliberate.

“A lot more is in our hands today with the technology that exists, whether as individuals we can contribute to however little, we should do; promote awareness of gender balance issues, post on social media the images of women that you want to see, if you are in the position of power, promote women, recruit and retain women in your companies.”

The president of International Women’s Society, Nigeria (IWS), Nkoli Ogbolu, noted that future generations have to be comfortable in the workplace and the home, not necessarily women. “The men should understand the place of women in nation building and help them achieve those roles. This is a collective responsibility, working as a team, so that the building blocks of the nation are stronger and better for generations yet unborn.

In the 2019 elections, she noted that women have not fared well as there is a drawback from previous elections, “these men hold political meetings at night, which husband will allow his wife attend meetings at such times, we all know that these rallies is a hot bed for illicit activities too. It is really not a good environment for women to thrive.

Other speakers at the event include: CEO Ellen Grace Consult, Matlou Tsotetsi, Founder Hirsch’s Homestore Margaret Hirsch, Programme and Coordination Director, LSETF Teju Abisoye, MD/CEO, Jonnelies Autos, Utchay Odims, Correspondent, Thomson Reuters Didi Akinyelure, CEO, Dragon Africa Obi Asika and Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden in Nigeria, Ida Hockerfelt.


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