By Jemi EKUNKUNBOR
Professor Adenike Grange needs no formal introduction in this country. Her CV is as impressive as a well decorated Christmas tree. An excellent Paediatrician, she began her working career at the popular Mercy Street hospital in Lagos.
Over the years, she has served in various hospitals and risen steadilyy on her career ladder. Professor Grange has served her institution creditably in various capacities including Headship of the Department of Paediatrics, Director, Institute of Child Health and lastly Dean of the School of Clinical Sciences. She has also served her country meritoriously as a consultant to the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and USAID.
An author of over fifty scientific papers mainly on diarrhoeal and nutritionalconditions in children, she is the first black woman to be president of the Paris based, international Paediatrician Association (IPA), a position she held until her appointment as Minister of Health. She is currently Provost and Chief Executive of the Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre, Ijebu RemoToday, we celebrate her in commemoration of the International womenâ€™s Day even as she shares her experiences on the journey to the top.
What was the journey to the top like?
The journey to the top has been a big struggle at every step of the way. But I had some women who did it ahead of me. So I was kind of inspired and developed the confidence that no matter what, I will get there; women like late Mrs Awolu, late Dr Irene Thomas, currently, Dr Mrs Sylva. They all made their names and set their foot print in the sands of time. Also, my father was very instrumental to my success. He was a hard worker who pushed me to do whatever I wanted to do and to do it well. He was always working. In fact, the time they knew he was dead was when he did not show up in the office. So, whatever he acquired was through his tears. And he had taught us that that was the way we should go and that is the way I have tried to do it.
But along the way, I would meet certain people who would try to assist me. I remember when I went to America because I did most of my post graduate training there and I had to leave my children here, that was the most terrible time for me. My husband was with them.
That was the first time anybody abroad ever heard of such a thing happen that a woman would leave her children to go abroad to study and they would look at me and say, â€œreallyâ€? And they were full of admiration for me. But today, of course, many women now do it. But it was tough and I know that my children did not grudge me. They are doing well and very proud of me. So that was the story of my moving abroad. My motto is that you must continue to try even if you fail. It is better to try and fail than not to try at all.
What is your opinion on womenâ€™s development in Nigeria?
Womenâ€™s development has come very far particularly in professional circles. Of course, business actually came before professional. Many women in those days traded to look after their children. My grandmother traded to look after her children. They were fully in control of businesses but it was more of petty training. But nowadays, the big businesses are being managed by men.
So, how would the women get there? So you can see itâ€™s going to be tougher for women to get to higher level because of the politics involved in everything. Itâ€™s up to us now to rally round other women whom we believe in and who can deliver the goose and support her to get that political muzzle to be able to make a mark and to be able to fight for other women and children.