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Conference speakers want collective fight of poverty for women

By Gbenga Salau
26 March 2016   |   3:31 am
Eminent Nigerian women took turn to train other women in the areas of politics, agriculture and technology at a special International Women’s Day Conference that took place in Lagos recently.


Eminent Nigerian women took turn to train other women in the areas of politics, agriculture and technology at a special International Women’s Day Conference that took place in Lagos recently. The theme of the conference was ‘Pledge for Parity: Empowering the 21st century African Woman’. The conference was organized by SME 100 Nigeria and Rubies Vocational School.

Welcoming participants to the conference, Mr Charles Odii, Executive Director, SME 100 said ‘the time has come for Nigerian women to be competitive on a global level in the areas of politics, agriculture and technology. According to him, ‘the nation can only develop substantially if women make efforts at being professionals in these male-dominated sectors. The conference was organized for women to learn from those who have become renowned.’

While speaking on the launch of the training plan for 1,000 women pan-Nigeria, Executive Director, Rubies Vocational School, Mrs Orode Okpu, said “women in the rural areas of Nigeria would not be left out of the training programmes plan for 2016. In her words, ‘There would be training in different vocations that best suit their locality. This training would be conducted by partnering with the House of Tara for the Make-Up category; Otres Restaurant for the catering category; Nuts About Cakes for the baking category and many others. Interested applicants can visit- to sign up.”

The keynote speaker of the day, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga, Chairperson, Access Bank Plc and other facilitators such as Oreoluwa Somolu-Lesi, Executive Director, W.TEC; Hajjiya Aisha Babangida, Chairman, Better Life for Rural Women, Nigeria; Hon Lolade Akande, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Lagos State; Chief Mrs. Kemi Nelson, APC Women Leader; Mrs Funke Egbemode, Founder, Mummy’s Integrated Farms Ltd; Mosun Umoru, Founder, Harvesters Farms Ltd and Special Technical Adviser on youth and gender to the Minister of Agriculture Mr Audu Ogbeh; Adanma Onuegbu, CEO, Signal Alliance encouraged women to collectively fight the scourge of poverty by being empowered with the set skills that will challenge the status quo.

Other activities at the conference include free breast cancer screening by the Pink Pearl Foundation and there was also an extensive panel session.

One of the co-promoters of the event, Executive Director, Rubies Vocational School, Mrs Orode Ryan-Okpu, said the conference is about bringing women together to grow their careers or businesses through learning and hearing women who succeeded in their fields share their experience. “The conference is just like an avenue to rub minds together.”

She however said that beyond the conference, which is about jaw jawing, there is a plan to train some women on different skill sets. “So, we also want to use the conference to launch the 2016 Empowerment Training Programme, where about a 1000 women would be trained over the course of the year in various vocations including makeup, hairstyling, catering and digital media.” She disclosed that the two programmes are open to all for participation.

According to Ryan-Okpu, the conference and training is a follow up to the philosophy of Rubies Vocational School, set up to create an environment where women can learn how to be entrepreneurs.

She however enjoined women not to on the basis of career disregard their home. “I believe that you can still hold your ground doing both. I’m a mother of two and I run businesses. The men can’t do it alone, so we need women to be in different sectors, to rebuild our economy. I encourage women to work and get empowered. You don’t have to step out of your house nowadays to begin a business.”

Also commenting on the project, Executive Director, SME 100 Nigeria, Charles Odii, corroborated the statements of Ryan-Okpu, disclosing that participants at the conference would be the first beneficiaries of the training opportunities that is the follow up to the conference. He stated that the two organisations partnered because they are into capacity building and stimulation of entrepreneurship.

“SME100 Nigeria is geared towards supporting and stimulating entrepreneurship in Nigeria among women and young people. And we do this with access to finance, market, capacity development, mentorship and networks.

“On the other hand, Rubies Training School is into capacity building, so we felt we could do so much more together, we could train 1000 women in one year. So it’s not just about the conference, but more about ensuring that more people are empowered through trainings.”

The brand ambassador of the conference, Omoni Oboli, said that she decided to be part of the event because of the important role women play in the society.