WIMBIZ decries high cost of women exclusion in key areas, urges turnaround
Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) this week held its 13th CEO/Policy-Maker Interactive Breakfast Series in Lagos where they decried the economic cost of women exclusion in key areas, and the resulting effects.
The interactive breakfast series is a stakeholder engagement session held annually with CEOs and policy-makers across various industries and sectors to discuss and proffer solutions to the critical challenges that women face.
The interactive session attended by over 90 CEOs and Policy Makers had the theme: ‘’Hidden Figures: The Cost of Exclusion’’. The theme was chosen deliberately to highlight the cost of exclusion to Nigeria’s economic growth, and the correlation between gender affirmative reforms and GDP, economic growth, job creation and wealth distribution. It was a robust and well-engaging panel discussion moderated by award-winning media icon, Biola Alabi; CEO, Biola Alabi Media and featured speakers such as Hamda Ambah, Managing Director/CEO, FSDH Merchant Bank, Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Country Representative, Nigeria and ECOWAS; Paul Gbededo, GMD/CEO Flour Mills Nigeria Plc and Hakeem Muri Okunola, Head of Service, Lagos State Government.
Giving the opening remarks, Olubunmi Aboderin Talabi, the Executive Council Chairperson of WIMBIZ, pointed out the unconscious bias that can affect the progression of women within the workplace. She said women do the majority of the world’s unpaid labour, they are more likely to be economically disadvantaged; they are treated in some circles as inferior and are vulnerable to violence.
Speaking on the importance of fair representation for all Nigerians, Talabi said, “after the recent 2019 election, the number of female senators dropped from eight to seven out of a total 109 available seats. The number of female members of the House of Reps dropped from 19 to 11 out of an available 360 seats. We only had six female cabinet members, out of 37, during the season of the 8th Assembly. As a new dawn commences, with the 9th Assembly starting coincidentally today, June 11 2019, we hope that during this next level dispensation, the number of female cabinet members will not fall.”
The panel discussion stimulated open and broad dialogue on the issue of exclusion as panelist took turns to contribute to the topic. Comfort Lamptey said: “Legislation is key and an important starting point for more women inclusiveness. Political will is also key. Legislation can’t happen without political will. It’s important to have leaders that believe in the inclusion of women in decision making.”
Paul Gbededo on the other hand believes that with women in the boardroom, companies can increase the bottom-line by six percent. He explained that focus, agility, execution are critical skills for the highest levels of governance and deliberate policies led by the private sector is required to drive the growth of women within the corporate ladder. He said: “Women are naturally endowed with these abilities so it is counterintuitive that the level of female representation remains unacceptably low.”
Hamda Ambah speaking on the cost of exclusion, said, “diversity in the room in decision-making is most likely to lead to the right decision. It has also been proven that when women are in the room as decisions are being made, they take an approach and think differently so they bring a view people haven’t brought before, and that is valuable and what we need.”
Joining the conversation, Head of Service, Lagos State Government, Hakeem Muri Okunola said: “In Lagos, there are 57,000 plus women in the Lagos State Civil Service. This means that they are already positioned to rise. He further said, “we realise that the cost for exclusion of women from government is high and, on this issue, the Lagos State Governor intends to play catch up.”
Giving the closing remarks and vote of thanks to sponsors and guests present at the event, the Chair, Planning Committee for the 2019 WIMBIZ CEO/Policy-Maker Breakfast Interactive Series, Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo, advocated the urgent need for institutional sustainable reforms with focus on gender parity within our corporate and political sphere. She said: “Gender inclusion can be an economic game changer for Nigeria, and WIMBIZ in line with our vision and mission will always be a partner to achieve this change.”
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