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Bagudu, Obiano, Usman, Tinubu, Tallen, Okonjo-Iweala, others shine at IWD summit

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Wife of Ekiti State Governor and Keynote Speaker, Erelu Bisi Fayemi (right); Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan –Atlantic University, Peter Bamkole; Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and the Moderator, Maupe Ogun-Yusuf at the panel session


It was a day of honour, recognition and rewarding excellence for Nigerian women especially women in public service, as the flagship publication, The Guardian honoured almost 40 women over the weekend as part of activities to mark this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), which had the theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.

In her welcome address at the epoch maiden IWD summit held in Lagos, Publisher/Chairman of The Guardian, Lady Maiden Alex-Ibru reiterated that the theme aligns perfectly with goal five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, which is achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls. Pointing out that the summit was the first ever event to recognise and honour women in public service both at the federal and state government levels in Nigeria, she said it is also a platform to deliberate on issues of national interest as they relate to the roles of women in the public sector in synchronization with the private sector development and the economy in general.

“The hashtag #WeChooseToChallenge is beyond a buzz. It seeks to further increase insight into the challenges faced by women in different aspects of life as well as proffer solutions to end gender-based inequality. It provides an inestimable opportunity to push further the conversations surrounding the role of women in the society at large.”

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Keynote speaker and First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi said Nigerian women still live in dire poverty, suffer many forms of discrimination, are mostly excluded from key decision-making positions, lack access to water, shelter and adequate nutrition and struggle to access qualitative healthcare services. “Nigeria continues to record unacceptably high levels of maternal and infant mortality rates, one of the highest in the world. There are approximately 10.5m children out of school in Nigeria and 60% of those are girls. All these issues continue to hinder the progress of Nigerian women due to entrenched patriarchal power, violent conflict and displacement, endemic poverty, lack of political will, and the use of culture, tradition and religion to render women voiceless and choiceless.

Every year, governments and citizens of the world gather to mark this month, which has been set aside to celebrate, acknowledge and identify with women of the world. It is a time for reflection on how far we have come in raising the status of women, fighting for an end to all forms of gender discrimination and ensuring that women play full and equal roles at all levels of society.” She said despite these bleak statistics, there is a bit of good news and we must sustain the gains made with women in public life by advocacy for political will, legislative and policy frameworks to break barriers, more women must use their platforms to address policy dimensions or practical interventions, be politically engaged, embrace mentoring and inter-generational organizing and ‘bring out wrappers for other women as every woman has a wrapper and every woman needs one.’

At the summit held in partnership with Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), notable women that have contributed in no small measure to public service in the country were recognised and awarded. Lifetime recognition awards were given to Ebele Okeke, Major-General Aderonke Kale (Rtd), Rear Admiral Itunu Hutonu (Rtd), Air Cmdr Habibah Ruth Garba (Rtd) and DIG Ivy Uche Okoronkwo (Rtd). In appreciation of outstanding contribution to public service in Nigeria, a special award was given to Dame Julie Okah-Donli and Dr. Folasade Omolara Yemi-Esan while Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu was awarded the most impactful female Federal Minister of State. The award of the most outstanding female federal permanent secretary went to Dr. Anthonia Akpabio Ekpa while the secretary to the Cross River State Government; Tina Banku Agbor went home with the award of outstanding female secretary to the state government, same as Dr. Ayoade Folashade Arike (Secretary to Kogi State Government). The award of outstanding female executive in public service (Medical) went to the CMD, Federal Medical Center Jalingo, Taraba State, Dr. Aisha Adamu, outstanding female executive in public service (Maritime) went to the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman and outstanding female executive in public service (Aviation) went to the Regional GM, South West Airports, FAAN, Victoria Shin-Aba.

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The most impactful female-led Federal Agency was awarded to the National Agency for the Prohibition of trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) while the most impactful female-led federal commission was awarded to the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM). The most impactful female-led Federal Ministry was awarded to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. Outstanding First Lady NGO was awarded to both Hajia Aisha Bagudu, wife of the Kebbi State governor and founder, Mass Almajiri Literacy and Poverty Alleviation Initiative (MALLPAI) and Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, wife of Anambra State Governor and Founder, The Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFE). Outstanding female Vice-Chancellor was awarded to the VC, University of Benin, Prof Lilian Imuetinyan Salami; VC, Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State, Prof Angela Freeman Miri whilst Outstanding female Chancellor was awarded to the VC, Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Prof Fatima Batul Mukhtar.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof Folasade Ogunsola (FAS) was awarded outstanding female deputy Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State, Engr I.K Ogunfayo was awarded outstanding female deputy rector as well as Anthonia Nneka Nwosu (FedPoly, Nekede, Imo State). Deputy governor, Rivers State, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo was awarded outstanding female deputy governor, as well as Lolo Cecilia Ezeilo (Deputy Governor, Enugu State), Dr. Hadiza Balarabe (Deputy Governor, Kaduna State).

Senator representing Lagos Central, Senator Oluremi Tinubu was awarded most impactful female senator while Hon. Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu (Onitsha North and South Federal Constituency, Anambra State) was awarded most impactful female House of Representative Member.

Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala was honoured for her outstanding contributions to public service while late Tolulope Arotile was given a special post-humous award in appreciation for her contribution to public service to the country.

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