Every time I attend an event such as the Wimbiz 2017 Annual Conference, I have two reasons and in the end, two different learning categories. Learning something new is a given and the networking is, no doubt, matchless but what matters the most is the inspiration that comes with spending those two days with women from different walks of life usually with different philosophies, levels of success and sectors foreign to mine.
In case you have never heard of Wimbiz, it stands for Women in Business, Management and Pubic service and is a Nigerian non-profit organisation with a vision “to be the catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation building”. This, the NGO does through countless National, community initiatives, events and more all year long.
In this article, I will share my 2017 take outs or reminders knowledge-wise and the inspirations or even life lessons I learn and re-learnt.
Keynote Speaker, British Deputy High Commissioner, Laurie Beaufils
delivered her speech, telling her story. You know I love stories! She told of her journey background, her journey as a woman making her way through her career across continents and working hard to build a name for herself. She, finally, landed on the role her husband continues to play leaving his established job (or business) in London to come to Nigeria with her and he kids. She spoke of how he found a good job here and is able to care for the kids while she attends to the countless commitments and events that come with her job. She concludes: “Can we have it all as women? We can’t without help” . While that no news, it was really comforting to be reminded that it’s an issue women around the world face (in different degrees)
Her story reminds me that marriage is such a strategic decision and each of us needs to choose wisely and with God’s help. In the end, we cannot 100% foretell the level of support a spouse is capable of offering.
I was up and about a lot this year but here are some of the highlights I caught from the Plenary sessions :
On Gender issues
- There is a major cultural issue about women in the workplace that needs to be dealt with. Women should not be made to feel guilty for pursuing their careers. I can totally relate. Do you know how many times, I’ve felt bad about working late or attending to work while my daughter tries to get my attention ? Men don’t feel guilty for working that hard, we should get a chance to work at our dreams too.
- Loved the all male panel with Mrs Adeola Azeez . AIG-Imoukhusde, Dan Agbor, Tonye Cole and Tosin Runsewe , each of them was asked what their organisation was doing to give more women a fighting chance at achieving their Career goals and senior roles,
- Issues such as maternity leave, working hours, women network communities even up to their personal lives were discussed within this context. Loved it. I think the gentlemen did a reasonable job of fielding the questions.
- When you are the only woman at the table please do not celebrate that. Do all you can to bring other women to the table as well. There is strength in numbers.
On women in Public and Civil service, we (maybe its just me), we don’t hear a lot about supporting women in the public sector, most of the juice goes to the private sector. I was glad to hear these though:
- Most of those in public service fail to improve themselves even after spending such a long time.
- As a woman in public or private service you need to constantly improve yourself, aspire to go the top, study further, encourage yourself, let your voice be heard.
- We are currently at the policy making level, thus when we think of breaking barriers, let’s look for qualified women to tutor and hand over the baton to.
- Women have left the executive and front row seats for men” there is a need for women to get in there. The government also needs to create an enabling environment for women to get in.
- Women in Civil service need to be emboldened; empowered and educated, most of them are laid back and scared.
Another highlight for me was the session in which Aishetu Fatima Dozie was speaking.
She declared that women should not be included just because they are women, they must take on roles because they are capable, stating that gender issues are not just “feel good” matters.
- Don’t be afraid to leave your field and try something else and come back. – Aishetu Fatima Dozie
- Women should not be afraid to ask questions. Demand what you want! – Aishetu Fatima Dozie
She finally sealed the deal by stating that she was leaving for a Stanford fellowship in the US shortly with her whole family!
In all, each annual conference and indeed Wimbiz in general brings me to a place of refreshment, re-motivation and certainly re-inspiration. I am happy to tell most that my biggest Clients have come from Wimbiz. The numerous relationships I have gained and the sisterhood therein have proven to be the foundation for my evolving business-like mind-set. Shout out to my darling mentor, Foluso Gbadamosi, I have no words, thank you for speaking for me in the places of power, in places where I was not present.
I NEVER set out to start a business but God had other plans and this movement remains just the catalyst I need to fulfil my goals.
Find out more about Wimbiz on www.wimbiz.org or follow them on Twitter @wimbiz and on Instagram