Empowerment of women tops agenda at 2015 WIMBIZ conference
THE 2015 edition of the yearly conference of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) opened yesterday, at the Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, with delegates from different parts of the world.
Organised under the theme, Leadership… Step Up and Stand Out, the two-day conference, which chairperson was the Publisher of The Guardian newspaper, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru, provides a veritable platform for women to engage in meaningful discussions about their pivotal role in nation building and economic development.
In her welcome address at the conference that continues today, the Chairperson of WIMBIZ, Osayi Alile said the initiative has from its inspired beginning 14 years ago, grown to become the largest gathering of women professionals, policy makers, thought leaders and experts in Nigeria.
This congregation of great minds, according to Alile, will have far reaching impact on lives, not just of women, but Nigerians in general.
“Our conference climaxes the strength of our commitment to empower women to work together and to accomplish great things. It equally serves as platform to gauge how the systematic pursuit of our vision continues to yield positive outcomes in ways that serves to reinforce our resolve.”
She noted that, while WIMBIZ place a premium on organising and celebrating achievement by women across all spheres, the organisation strongly believes that Nigerian women can do much more than we get credit for.
“We must understand that leadership is never given on a platter. We need to step up and stand out to get it. That is why the theme for this year’s conference, Leadership… Step Up and Stand Out, is timely. We will over the course of the next two days, explore, examine and exchange ideas on the options, opportunities and openings for the Nigerian woman today in the quest to enhance our role as accelerators of Nigeria’s development,” she said.
Lady Alex-Ibru commended WIMBIZ for creating a platform that will be beneficial to not only the young women of today, but also to generation yet unborn.
“This organisation is the epitome of hope, not only to the young ones, but also to generation yet unborn. You have acquired great reputation of seeking to foster excellence among women executive in business and government in particular and other areas of human endeavour. I therefore, consider it a privileged to be asked to chair this conference,” she said.
For Lady Alex-Ibru, this year’s conference and its theme, points to the fact that sustaining the quest for learning has been the creed of WIMBIZ as an organisation, urging women to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to greater heights.
“In other to stand out in life, you must step out of your zone of comfort to a zone of discomfort. As a woman, the odd are already stacked against you and you have a point to prove. Bill gate once said, ‘a sustainable business isn’t anymore.’ I say, ‘for a woman, a sustainable success isn’t anymore.’ Hence, a woman must continue to change and grow at the speed of the time in other to stay relevant to herself, in her business and even in her family.
“You need to be uncomfortable, however, successful you may be in your business, stay in competition, especially in a male dominated world. If the competition has a bigger hammer, you must go get a sharper nail. If they work hard, you must work smart. And if they work harder, think and work smatter.”
In the midst of discomfort in which women seek to excel in business, politics and other ventures, Lady Alex Ibru tasked women to stay comfortable in their own skin as women, as wives, as mothers and as ultimate molder of character and the custodian of those things that made you success.
“The winds of change will blow you of course, if you are not anchored by core set of values. This is true for all person, but especially so for a woman,” she hinted.
Advocating for more inclusion of women in positions of authority in both the corporate and government agencies, Lady Alex- Ibru informed that recent research has shown that most women, who leave their jobs, do so because of frustrating problems at work, adding that the higher one goes in the corporate ladder, the fewer the number of women executive.
She noted that most organisation are not diligent enough to spot the qualities of women in management, adding that women tend to be more appalled by ethical missteps than men.
“Women are less willing to take actions that attract big financial benefit to their organisation at the risk of flouting underlined principles of the organistaion,’’ said.
She observed that women generally are hindered from ascending the corporate ladder for a number of reasons.
“The most important of which being how to balance the conflicting demands of work and family. Many women aspiring for political positions do not recognise the importance of cultivating and maintaining a depth of self-confidence that will enable them thrive in a competitive environment like the corporate world,” she said.
The opening day featured a keynote address by Wendy Luhabe, a pioneer Social Entrepreneur and Economic Activist from South Africa, panel discussions and breakout sessions where issues concerning women were thoroughly discussed. There was also a presentation of WIMBIZ Achievers Award to former Vice Chancellor of University of Benin, Prof. Mrs. Grace Adele-Williams and former Vice Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Prof. Sidi Osho.