‘The African Woman Is Limited By Culture’
Mrs. Maureen Omeibe is an industrialist and leader of African Women Leadership Organisation (AWLO), a global non-governmental organisation committed to addressing issues of out-of-school children, and women’s skills acquisition and re-orientation.
HER passion for ensuring that more women stand up to their responsibilities in the family and society to get the desired change they have clamoured for at the political scene and other spheres, led Mrs. Maureen Omeibe to become a member of the African Women Leadership Organisation (AWLO), a global non-governmental organisation set out to address issues concerning out-of-school children and women’s skills acquisition and re-orientation.
After six years of active membership, Omeibe attained leadership mantel as the coordinator of the organisation’s Lagos State chapter. She is also the Executive Director of Degab Industries Limited, a firm that assembles tricycles, is involved in maintenance service and also provides technical training for people who want to have technical knowledge.
“AWLO was established to pull together women across Africa from different backgrounds and professional status to rub minds and find a way of dealing with issues affecting women in Africa and beyond.
“I am passionate about this organisation because we reach out to a wide range of women and not just Nigerian women, including women who share in the values and experiences of African women living in Europe, UK and US who belong to this organisation. The membership base has also continued to grow, with diverse professionals from all spheres of life who can change the society,” she said.
While speaking on issues affecting women in Africa, she noted that the African woman is not empowered by the nature of the culture in practice. “AWLO brings women in leadership and decision-making positions to influence decisions, and so we want to ensure that women get leadership positions. We try to agitate the minds of our women to aspire to get there too and when they get there, we harp on the need to be transparent, accountable and conduct oneself in a manner that will speak volumes of a positive leader.”
Mrs. Omeibe however stressed that part of the activities of the organisation is holding regional and global conferences, which tackle some of these issues.
“Our global conference which held in Texas recently, with the theme, ‘The African woman: Transcending the globe, breaking barriers’, tells that women are faced with diverse barriers including social, economic, religious, educational and cultural. It is not enough to say that as a woman you want to raise your children alone and ignore the children of others. The tendency is that your children will suffer any time tomorrow because of the negligence exhibited.”
On projects embarked upon by the organisation, she said: “We have the ‘One Mother One Child’, which is a global project, conceptualised with the understanding that there are a lot of children who are out of school in Africa. It is estimated that over 30 million children are out of school in Africa and looking at that statistics, we researched a bit on what led to that. These children are out of school not because they want to be, or they are not intelligent but mostly because they do not have a mentor or are brought up in a conventional family system where they are cared for, apart from the fact that there is no money.
So, this project expects every member of the AWLO to extend the care they give to their own children to those children who are out of school. We pick up these children from wherever they are, enroll them in institutions our organisation has partnered with to ensure these children are reintegrated into the society, and have someone to care for them. We do not adopt these children, but pay their fees and play the role of mentor and so we encourage more women to partner in this project to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Africa in our little way.
We also hope to have a women’s development centre so that we can have more partnerships to give women skills acquisition and a positive life. This can only be achieved if you stay in the lives of the women to ensure that the needed change is guarded in such a way that it yields results, which is very challenging when it comes to running an NGO.
AWLO brings women in leadership and decision-making positions to influence decisions, and so we want to ensure that women get leadership positions. We try to agitate the minds of our women to aspire to get there too and when they get there, we harp on the need to be transparent, accountable and conduct oneself in a manner that will speak volumes of a positive leader.
The Lagos chapter will however launch its pet project ‘Building Great Minds’, targeted at creating a pattern to reorient and mentor our young people because a great mind will eventually become a great leader. We are going to be bringing a lot of discussions in the open that are not taught in schools, not because they are not important but because the society tends to be over-conscious of what they teach the children. But then, looking at what is obtainable in the society today, it is better you let the children know these things, so they can tell what is right and wrong since they are exposed to all sorts of vices.
While commenting on being a wife, mother, entrepreneur as well as the additional responsibility driven by her passion, she noted that when there is a drive or determination, one tries to do everything possible to keep the candlelight burning.
“I will not tell you that it has been a smooth ride, or I have not sacrificed a few things. I did a lot of adjustments. Before I became the chapter president, I had to discuss with my husband and make him understand that I may have a little bit of additional responsibility somewhere, and so, I ensure I manage my time properly. I tell women too that no matter what you do, your home must not suffer.”
Omeibe who hails from Enugu State has a Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) certificate in Business Administration from the University of Lagos, a certificate in entrepreneurial development, and also a master’s degree in Public and International Affairs.
She revealed that her background prepared her for her current passion. “My dad was an engineer who worked with the Water Corporation before he passed on and my mum was a trader and a seamstress. They both inculcated in us the values which I stand by today.”
She enjoys writing in her leisure time and researching on different countries’ policies as they affect women.
Of her philosophy of life, Omeibe said: “Live to affect the live of the next person positively. It must not be material, it should be an inborn attribute. Also, respect everyone so that in years to come, you can still go to bed knowing that you do not have issues with anyone”.