Group advocates gender inclusion in infrastructure sector
Women in Infrastructure Community Africa (WICA) has called on government and corporate organisations to make the infrastructure sector gender-inclusive. The professional women advocacy platform for sustainable infrastructure in Africa made the call during a consultative forum in Lagos themed ‘Diversity in Infrastructure’.
According to the group, ensuring meaningful participation of women in the infrastructure sector will enhance sustainable socio-economic development, structured women empowerment, mitigate poverty and boost the emergence of resilient cities and communities in the face of climate change challenges.
Founder of WICA, Dr. Olajumoke Akiode, said that the myth of infrastructure being gender-neutral was responsible for existing public utilities that do not adequately meet the needs of every member of society.
“The exclusion of women who, research shows, interact with infrastructure more than the men, from the choice of infrastructure, its conception, design and implementation, has overtime hindered the delivery of equitably beneficial and sustainable infrastructure in Nigeria and Africa,” said Akiode, who is the executive director, Centre for Ethics and Sustainable Development.
The keynote speaker and the CEO of Afrigrants Resources Limited, Ms. Thelma Ekiyor, emphasised the importance of capacity building for WICA members, and the need to be strategic and focused on what needs to be changed, especially core policy issues.
Highlighting women’s experiences as stakeholders, end-users and workers in the infrastructure sector, the executive director of Inter Bau Construction Limited, Mrs. Doris Mbadiwe, stressed the need for policy formulation that addresses the constraints to women’s participation in the construction industry.
For the CEO of Siemens, Mrs. Onyeche Tifase, WICA must understand the need to be active in changing gender stereotypes in the infrastructure sector, beginning with the young women who need to start thinking differently about career opportunities, the value of hard work and competence, as well as their life priorities to bridge existing gender gaps among infrastructure professionals.Dr. Yemi Oginni, an architect and researcher in the University of Lagos (UNILAG), also emphasised the need for mentorship and structured incentives for increased study and practice of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by females.