By Benjamin Njoku
In keeping with the IWD 2018 campaign theme- PressforProgress, time and care was taken to create an atmosphere and craft conversations that were most pertinent to the female experience within the corporate structure of the leading energy and infrastructure conglomerate.
A roundtable discussion titled: Celebrating Extraordinary Women- A Seminar for Sahara Women by Sahara Women, was held in the company’s board room. Topics of discussion ranged from striking a work/life balance, power dressing and the young working mum experience.
Chidilim Menakaya, Head, Human Resources Strategy said: “We thought it would be best to draw speakers from the rich pool of phenomenal women in our workforce. We set up a small committee of women from a pretty wide spectrum in terms of age and rank and came up with a list of women we’d most like to hear from and on what subjects.”
A recurring observation from most women in attendance seemed to be the universality of the female struggle in domestic and professional life. Pearl Uzokwe, one of the facilitators said: “I think we were all really struck by the sameness and diversity in our challenges and aspirations.”
Another attendant remarked that it was especially gratifying to hear heartfelt and relatable narratives expressed by some of the highest ranking women within the organisation. “I gained more introspection on what it means to be a woman in power than ever before. Placed in the wider context of PressforProgress, it got me thinking about ways of striking a work life balance, a quest which remains challenging mostly for women in most formal sectors of the economy.”
Sahara women lit up Lagos, Accra, Dubai, Dar es Salaam, Geneva, Abidjan, Singapore, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Tema with their sunshine yellow T-shirts which reinforced the PressforProgress theme and Sahara Group’s commitment to gender equality. The empowerment seminars held at Tema Secondary School in Ghana and Kigamboni Secondary School in Tanzania left scores of the female students inspired and determined to pursue their dreams.
Recall that the Group recently partnered with Zuriel Oduwole, a 15-year-old young filmmaker and girl education advocate to empower 90 girls in the art of film-making in Nigeria, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire. The Group continues to support various interventions aimed at women empowerment.
According to a UN Women article published just ahead of IWD, only one in four parliamentarians worldwide are women and it will be 2086 before we close the gender pay gap going by current trends.
The agency goes on to state that “IWD is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with all those fearless women standing up for gender equality, and spotlight those who often pass unnoticed.”
The general consensus from attendees was that Sahara Group remains a highly conducive environment in which women can nurse and realise their ambitions without necessarily having to sacrifice the things they aspire to in their personal lives.
But the work is never complete and Sahara Group’s celebration of IWD on the grandest and most meaningful scale yet means that many more women within the organisation are alert to the travails of women outside of their daily orbit.
In her remark, MIS Junior Analyst, Manuala Bamgbose-Martins said: “It is no longer possible to be inured to hard facts about the plight of women across all regions.”