Hyde, Moghalu, others urge women to strive for greatness at the circle event
Nigerian women have been urged to strive for greatness and rise above circumstances to achieve their dreams. This and other words of wisdom and encouragement were imparted at the Lagos edition of The Circle recently organized by The Women International (TWI).
Keynote speaker at the event, presidential aspirant, Kingsley Moghalu, said men were very important in the fight for gender equality in Nigeria. Urging women to find men with the same vision as themselves, he added that our culture needs to be modified. “Women need to have the same opportunities as men to improve the economy, improved education to break generational poverty, better access to finance as statistics show that only 23 percent of Nigerian women have access to finance, more matrimonial rights, reduced violence against women and better access to political and leadership positions. Gender representation in politics should be 50-50 and not what we have presently in Nigeria.”
Urging women not to sell their votes cheaply, he said: “When a politician buys your vote, the first thing he does when getting into office is to recoup his investment and not work for you or your children.”
TV personality, Peace Hyde, decried women’s level of education compared to men, describing it as poor. “We also lack initiative, courage, power and the extra push. As a woman, society would do everything to suppress you especially in our male dominated society, especially professionally. It’s not who you are but what you do. It’s important to always remember who you are. You are not your situation; you can achieve what you want despite your circumstances. I was told I couldn’t be on TV because I’m too big and too dark. Yet, here I am. Started as a Ghana correspondent, then I became the West African correspondent of Forbes Africa and now Head of Digital Media and Partnership for Forbes Media West Africa. As long as you have oxygen in your lungs, God isn’t finished with you. No matter how difficult the circumstances, you will flourish if you believe and work diligently towards your end goal.”
Featuring the first panel with the topic, What do Nigerian women lack?; Leslie Okoye, Olatorera Oniru founder and CEO of dressmeoutlet.com, Olubusola Adeyi, founder of Bujad Ventures and Kema Chikwe discussed in details the several challenges women face.
According to Oniru: “There’s 70 percent poverty in this country and more women fall into this category. Do not focus on the challenges alone. Over time, you learn to work smart instead of working hard. When I was in the university, I worked round the clock. While this was very hard, it made me a fighter and toughened me up. I’d do anything today just to keep body and soul together. Start where you can start and shoot up. Keep pushing.” Lamenting that the system has failed many graduates, she added that there is a lot of untapped wealth in Nigeria that is yet to be utilised.
“We need to be focused, be bold. My major challenge was bringing up my kids because I was solely responsible for them but if I could do that and run a business, you can as well,” Adeyi said.
The second panel, speaking on the possible solutions and remedies to the struggles of the modern day African woman, had on it Claire Omatseye, president, Healthcare Federation Nigeria, who spoke on how to run a successful business. “A business has to be sustainable and profitable. Keep books, bank all your proceeds, be your own brand ambassador. Find SME friendly banks; be innovative and think outside the box. Find affordable consultants to help out. Try not to dip into your income, pay yourself no matter how small and be disciplined about it.”
Answering a question on sexual harassment from men when looking for job or contracts, she said: “Sexual harassment is rampant but we need to begin to effect change ourselves. If you don’t want to be compromised don’t put yourself in a compromising situation and never compromise your values no matter what.”
Another speaker, Itunu Akinware the General Manager, Medbury Medicals, told a shocked audience that she started her business with N500. “We bought N250 petrol for the generator and that’s how we started. N250 became N500 and we moved from there. I won’t say it has been easy but we have persevered. Nobody is going to just hand you capital just like that, you need to show proper track record.
Other speakers were Adebisi Lamikanra and Amina Oyagbola, founder, WISCAR, who spoke on how to raise capital. “Do your homework, have a viable business plan, be thorough and disciplined. Raising a family and trying to work is very difficult and work-life balance is a myth. Just prioritize as much ask you can and delegate what you can. Good help and support is very important too. Invest in yourself as well.”
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