ByBy Josephine Agbonkhese, Ebun Sessou, Esther Onyegbula, Providence Emmanuel & Naomi Tenebe
Failure to work in solidarity, imbibe the culture of mentoring and raise girls to be confident in themselves, have been identified as roadblocks to the rise of women in politics and business in Nigeria.
These were the submissions of Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, former Presidential Adviser; Ambassador Folake Marcus-Bello, former Nigerian Ambassador to Zambia and Malawi; Mrs Bunmi Lawson, Pioneer/Former MD/CEO, Accion Microfinance Bank; Mrs Ibiene V. A. Ogolo, Managing Director, Eko Development Company; and Mrs Dolapo Badmus, Police Public Relations Officer, Zone 2, amongst other prominent female entrepreneurs and politicians who spoke, yesterday, at a roundtable tagged ‘Dearth of Mentoring in Business & Politics’, organised by Vanguard Newspapers at Radisson Blu, Victoria Island, Lagos, in commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day.
“Nigerian women must learn to take mentoring seriously. In fact, mentoring should be seen as a programme that is geared towards the development of the country and Nigerian politics. This is important because more women have to be part of Nigerian politics without being pushed back by fear and intimidation,” Ita-Giwa said.
Giwa who regretted that she had never been mentored all her life, said she had however mentored and successfully delivered 13 children out of the creeks of Bakassi.
She said: “I was not mentored. But I promised myself that no matter what happened, I would pitch my way up. It was however quite a challenge coping without a mentor.”
Reeling out ways through which she had supported budding female entrepreneurs, Lawson reiterated that mentoring women in business was key to increasing the number of women in politics and governance, due to the role for finance in Nigerian politics.
Emphasising the importance of raising girls to be confident, Marcus-Bello, who said she grew up amongst 20 boys, stressed that girls must be taught to stand their ground from childhood.
She said: “From a very young age, I have learned to stand my ground and fight for myself among men. I was also raised to do what they do; climb trees and play football—and these have been an advantage to me.
“So, to every parent, I will say stop raising your female children as if you were raising them to go and stay in somebody’s kitchen permanently. I am not against family, but you must raise your children to be confident and you have to start early. I started getting such trainings from when I was in primary school and I thus served as a prefect in primary and secondary schools.
“In the university, I was the first female Vice President of the University of Ibadan Student Union Government; and in fact, of any higher institution in Nigeria. Such things do not come on a platter of gold but happened because I was raised not to see myself as a girl but as a human being.”
Earlier, declaring the event open, the Deputy Editor, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr Adekunle Adekoya, said the roundtable was an affirmation of the newspapers’ commitment to the growth of women and the girl child in the country.
Adekoya, who spoke on behalf of the Publisher, Vanguard Newspapers, Mr Sam Amuka, said: “Vanguard, as a newspaper, is poised to ensure progress for Nigerian women and girls. Through our Women’s Department headed by Mrs Morenike Taire, the convener of this event, we have championed causes for women and girls and will continue in same spirit because we believe in the ability of women to positively change the course of this country.”