By Ebunoluwa Sessou

Ninety-one-year- old Chief (Mrs.) Kofo Olawoye was among 20 legends that were celebrated at this year’s Women in Management, Business and Public Service, WIMBIZ’s 20th Annual Conference Legend Ball held in Lagos.

The Legend Ball was one of the pre-conference events of this year’s WIMBIZ Conference.

The 20 powerful women were carefully selected from different sectors including business, education, health, public service, industry among others.

READ ALSO: WIMBIZ takes BSP to public schools

They were Dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, OON, Prof. Ibironke Akinsete, Chief (Dr.) Onikepo Akande, OON, CON; Dr. Evelyn Ndidi Oputu; Lady Maiden Alex Ibru, MFR; Chief (Mrs.) Winifred Awosika, OON; Prof. Ekanem Braide; Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye; Dr. (Mrs.) Elfrida Arinola Pearce; Dr. Sarah Jibril, Engr. Joanna Olu Maduka; Chief (Mrs.) Kofo Olawoye; Ms. Onyeka Onwenu, MFR; Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Mrs. Olusola Momoh; Hon. Justice (Dr.) Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, GCON; Ms. Modupe Oshikoya; Chief Folake Solanke, SAN, CON; Chief Shade Thomas-Fahm as well as Prof. Grace Alele Williams.

Called the Trailblazers at the Legends Ball, they were among the recognised female pioneers, who through sheer audacity, have broken barriers for women and achieved incredible feats in their different endeavours. 

Speaking about the legends, Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Chairman, Board of Trustees, WIMBIZ said: “We are celebrating female legends who dared to challenge the status quo when nobody else could and succeeded.” 

In addition to recognising the female legends, Mrs. Ighodalo emphasized that WIMBIZ has built an institution that is beyond its trustees.

“As a founding trustee, I am excited to see younger women take on leadership roles within the WIMBIZ community.

Ten years ago, having mentored and worked with our current leaders, we passed on the baton of leadership to them and it’s been graceful watching them flourish.”

In her contribution, the Executive Director, WIMBIZ, Hansatu Adegbite, explained that the Legend Ball is celebrating women who are trailblazers, “those who have paved the way for other women in various sectors.

“Every year, we choose one sector in order to celebrate a woman but this year, on our 20th anniversary, we decided to select 20 women from different sectors including education, sports, technology, legal, public service, media, Theatre art among others; those women who are trailblazers and have paved the way for other women.

Omobola Johnson, first Chairperson, WIMBIZ said: “We are celebrating individuals who have contributed to nation building. Women who have shown courage, strength and love in the face of challenges.”

The recipients speak
Receiving the awards, the recipients in their various capacities appreciated the organisation.

Chief Adenike Akande, OON, CON, an industrialist said: “This is my birthday gift.  I dedicate this award to women who are doing great and still struggling in various endeavours.”

For Prof. Ibironke Akinsete, medical doctor: “This award would not have been possible if not for my family, including my children and my late husband.”

Chief Folake Solanke, a lawyer said: “I thank the WIMBIZ for celebrating excellence.”

Chief Kofo Olawuyi, 91-year-old public servant said: “I am truly honoured and privileged to receive this award. I am delighted that WIMBIZ includes public service in its programme which is an important pillar of the society. I encourage the organisation to keep striving and it will get better.”

Chief Shade Thomas-Fahm said: “To the glory of God, I accept this award. I have been so lucky to be acknowledged today.

“Women are the salt of life that controls the economy. Women as farmers, traders are the backbone of the economy.

“Nigerian women are taking the position. We must continue to use local contents and discourage imported products in Nigeria.”

Art & Fashion Exhibition
Speaking on the Art and Fashion exhibition, the Executive Chairperson, WIMBIZ, Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo, explained that it is also one of the lined-up pre-conference series organised in celebration of this year’s annual conference, adding that the oragnisation wanted to cut across a range of sectors and creative arts and fashion was selected. 

“Women are part of the sector and it is important that we recognise and give them sense of belonging.

When we talk about art, a female artist does not cross the line, and so, we are looking at the avenue to get young female artists on board. 

“The idea was to showcase talents so that people can appreciate art works, patronise the artists and support them financially.

“Many artists struggle to attract patronage. At WIMBIZ, we will continue to support artists, especially women.

“We want to get female artists as part of the collectives, build a network for future purposes. We want women to look at art differently, learn to appreciate it, invest in it and support it,” she stated.

In her reaction, Art Curator, Ugoma Ebilah, said: “I have been creating art for 14 years and the inspiration was to depict the power of a woman through various aspects including self reflection, friendship, the male force inspiration, fashion, fun, quest for knowledge, education, hustle, sense of commerce and power in business.

Our senses of wonder, imagination and pain are the reasons for creating the exhibition in this manner. For those artists who want to showcase their works, they can reach out to ugoma.ng.”

One of the artists, Grace Ighavbota said: Come rain, come shine, talks about the struggle many parents go through to put food on the table.

Most women are breadwinners and for those whose husbands are not financially capable, the women are out there.
The story is about every underprivileged mother.

Damilola Tejuosho noted that Career babies speak, was inspired by the saying that most working class women do not have time for their children or their children are not well taken care of. The baby is just correcting the impression it was just an assumption.

Fashion
The curator, Ozinna Anumudu, said the collections were taken from different fashion households including Lady Biba, OAMA, For Style Sake among others.
Meanwhile, the 20th WIMBIZ annual conference will commence today, November 4 and 5, 2021.  

Speakers billed for the conference are Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Economist and Founder, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Atedo Peterside, CON; former Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, Ibukun Awosika, as well as Founder, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (now GTCo) and FATE Foundation, Fola Adeola.

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