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Giving Succour To Women In Despair

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Adesioye copyMRS. Edith Bunmi Adesioye is a trained chartered banker and inspirational speaker. She is the founder, Women of Perseverance and Dignity ministry.

She visited Nigeria in March 2014 from England where she has lived for the past 41 years. She spoke with The Guardian on what motivates her to help women.

Her maternal step-grandmother, Mrs. Wuraola Esan, was a known social activist who fought for the emancipation of women, as did her aunt, the late Chief Mrs. Jade Akande (SAN) who fought for equal recognition and rights for women. Her family trained her to have confidence in herself as an individual and not as a gender, she points out.

“I was instilled with confidence early in life.” She went to school as many young people her age and started a career in banking at the then National Bank of Nigeria, London branch.

She worked there for 12 years and rose to be a manager; but she moved to other banks because National Bank closed down. Mrs. Adesioye recalls that the sector was dominated by men in those days, noting that she was denied the appropriate promotion in National Bank because of her gender.

There was bias against women and there were a few women who worked in banks in the City of London, she remembers. For example, she was the only black female member of the organisation, ‘Women In Banking.’

At Bournemouth University where she went to specialise in Banking, she was the only female and black woman in the class. With that experience, she realised that she had to work twice as hard as her male counterparts.

“I felt confident, I was not intimidated; being among all males can be oppressing if you are not sure of your capabilities. I studied hard so that it was not thought that I was favoured by lecturers.

But I will say that I enjoyed the company of my colleagues because I discovered that men are easier to get along with.” However, her journey to help other women began with these experiences.

“I decided that I must help women in general so that no woman goes through what I went through. I fought all the way for every promotion.”

Her marriage broke down in 2005, she stated, as she gives the glory to Almighty God for her success. “I come from a Christian home where the whole family had morning devotion together.

My mother was my teacher in primary school; she did not spare the cane.” Her friend of many years who is the Head of Counseling at Bridge House College, Ikoyi agrees.

Her father, Mr. Adebayo Akinlotan went to England when she was seven while his family stayed in Nigeria until she finished from The Polytechnic, Ibadan. She worked in the banking sector for 28 years and rose to be Assistant Director at Dresdner Kleinworth Benson.

She has two daughters; the eldest, Lola studied at Cambridge University. She plays the piano, speaks Italian and is fluent in German and Spanish. Besides, she is a ballet dancer and plays the saxophone.

She has had a stint with the CNN and writes for The Guardian of London. The second daughter, Ayo, attended Manchester University and has worked in the media which include Channel 4 before she moved to Rio de Janeiro. They are not trained journalists, she adds. Mrs Adesioye says she is not an ordained priest, but she speaks at her native church.

Her Women Of Perseverance and Dignity Ministry takes her on trips around the world and she has spoken to women in cities like Frankfurt, Zurich and some parts of the United States of America, encouraging those who think that life is not worth living to pick up the pieces and move on.

The ministry helps women to carry on in times of divorce, widowhood and separation, she says, adding that they help the marginalised and abused too.

During the trip to Nigeria, she was at youth conferences, Christ Church Cathedral, Marina, Lagos where she met the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) and members of the youth wing of the church.

She was also at some branches of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).   Her advice to women is to know that are they in this world to fulfill God’s purpose. “Do not see yourself as second class citizens; but that is not to say that you should behave like men.   “Appreciate your womanly qualities, they are not inferior.

Hold your own wherever you find yourself and strive to excel. Unfortunately, discrimination is a global thing, but whatever happens, you should never sell yourself short; don’t give up.

“See yourself as overcomers because you will always bounce back although it may be difficult initially. As a woman, you are expected to work harder; associate yourself with positive people who support you.

“Do not feel bitter or resentful; they are obstacles to dealing with issues. Your feeling of unhappiness will not last forever; have a vision and make sure you are working towards it. Learn to forgive”.

To young people, she cautions: “Even when the home is not conducive, have the confidence that you will grow and be bigger than any problem. Be guided by that experience. Know who you want to be.

“Think of your role as the future leaders and you will see that you can play a positive part in any part of the world. Build a good relationship with people you meet. Identify your outstanding qualities.”

She is happy that through her Rehoboth Christian Bookshop in London, many people have become Christians. Her company, Rehoboth Syndicate Consultancy, which she is the Managing Director, she says, specialises in financial and relationship empowerment, career, leadership coaching and mentoring.

Women of Perseverance and Dignity ministry has existed for nine years, she says, adding that it helps women to cope with divorce, widowhood and separation. In addition, abused and marginalised women find comfort there.


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