In leadership there should be balanced representation of women
Maureen Omeibe is the Lagos Co-ordinator, African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO), a non-governmental organisation aimed at encouraging women to be the best they can be and bringing African women to advance their leadership status. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, she raised issues affecting the womenfolk and the way forward.
What brought you into the AWLO and how did you become the Lagos State Co-ordinator?
I have always fought for the interest of women because I believe we should have a voice and be given the opportunity to contribute our quota to the development of society, irrespective of our gender. Becoming the Lagos State Co-ordinator was not by election. Before I joined the organization, I was very passionate about issues pertaining to women and needed a platform where I could serve a large percentage of women in Nigeria and beyond. I think the organization saw that I could do the job and I am grateful to AWLO for giving me the opportunity to serve.
In AWLO, our objectives are clear because we bring women in leadership positions together to discuss leadership challenges and motivate others to make a difference in these positions. We believe that leadership can change the society and make the world a better place. We hold conference every year and also have our pet project tagged: ‘One woman, one child,’ where we encourage women to adopt one child that is less privileged and help them.
In the Lagos State Chapter we have achieved a lot in the area of awareness and seminars. We have this pet project titled: ‘Building Great Minds’ which was successful last year. The organisation holds conference annually where women converge to discuss topical issues that affect them. I think people identify with AWLO more through our projects and conferences.
You talk so passionately about this, have you been discriminated against in a leadership position because you are a woman?
I am an executive director of a company at the moment. On different occasions, I represented my company sometime ago where a man went out to make a call and asked why a young woman like me should be the one to attend the meeting instead of the chairman. I got to know about it and that is a form of discrimination.
Though it was not done to me directly but indirectly. Most times, women feel they don’t have the capacity to deliver when it comes to being in higher positions. To occupy leadership positions, women should be well prepared two or three times more than the men because so much is expected of them.
How do you think women can overcome the barriers and challenges in the society?
Women need to be empowered psychologically and believe in themselves. You have to know who you are as a woman. When you have that believe, you begin to see yourself evolve as a human being. You must also have sound skill and education. To prove their mettle, they should not be in leadership positions to amass wealth; rather they should nurture and grow the process. For instance, in Nigeria where corruption is said to have eaten deep into the fabric of the society, women should take up the responsibility to clean up any mess they find on ground. It is not always easy but it is good to prepare and take action. Women who know their worth do not envy other women that are doing well. You must stand out to build yourself.
Do you think women are well represented in this administration?
The society is made up of men and women. Any government that does not involve a good representation of women is running a step backwards. I think there should be balanced representation. Both man and woman have what it takes to lead.