Women have been encouraged to have a total shift in mindset, which should be devoid of stereotype, if the much desired gender equality must be attained. This was the submission of women who gathered at the 2016 Stanbic IBTC Blue Women Network event in Lagos to commemorate the International Women’s Day.
The Stanbic IBTC Blue Women Network is a platform established to, among other things, provide the women in Stanbic IBTC the opportunity to gain new insights that will enhance their professional skills as well as support their all-round growth through information sharing, best practice and mentorship to help develop their leadership skills and advance their career prospects.
The two guest speakers at the event, a female pilot, Captain Mercy Odushola Eghonghon, and Member, Lagos State House of Assembly representing Mushin I constituency, Honourable Adefunmilayo Tejuoso, agreed that gender inequality is often the product of the constraints and limitations women unconsciously place on themselves, either in public or private life.
According to them, for gender equality to be achieved, parents, particularly mothers, have a critical role to play in the nurturing and education of the girl-child in a way to remove stereotypes and build self-belief, courage, self-esteem and drive. These, they say, are essential ingredients needed for the girl-child to compete on equal terms with her male counterparts.
Using their personal experiences to buttress the point, the two speakers said they have been successful in male-dominated professions largely due to their upbringing in ‘genderless’ homes, where there were no differentiation between the male and female children as everyone was treated equally and the same values of courage, self-confidence, hard work, determination, discipline and respect for human dignity were instilled in them.
“Growing up, my father would call me to assist him with the repair or servicing of the family electric generator; he would show me how to change the oil, refuel, etc, while my brother regularly assisted our mum in the kitchen,” Eghonghon said.
Drawing instances from politics, Honourable Tejuoso said the number of women in leadership positions in the country is still very negligible, in spite of the 30% affirmative action. “If you look at the state houses of assemblies in Nigeria, women are underrepresented; none has gender parity. In the Lagos State House of Assembly, of the 40 constituencies represented, only four of us are women,” Tejuoso said. “Society is skewed in a way to always see women as subordinates who must be handed crumbs. This perception is imbibed from childhood and must be corrected,” Tejuoso added.
Honourable Tejuoso and Eghonghon therefore called for a complete shift in perceptions and stereotype. According to them, women must start to put in the required efforts such as focus, determination, constant self-improvement, passion for what they do, self-belief, as well as partnership with men to ensure parity.
In her remark, Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Sola David-Borha, while expressing her appreciation for the BWN network, said women are in a much stronger position today than they were in the past to ensure gender parity. “It is important to imbue in the girl-child self-belief; that there are no limits to how high they could rise in their chosen careers,” she said.
In her opening speech as chairperson of BWN, Executive Director, Corporate and Transactional Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Yewande Sadiku, said Stanbic IBTC continues to show leadership as an equal opportunity employer. She, therefore, encouraged the women to take advantage of this to aspire to leadership positions in their various business segments and across the Stanbic IBTC Group.
The 2016 Edition of the Blue Women Network Magazine was officially unveiled at the well-attended event. The BWN is an initiative of Stanbic IBTC – with a focus on deliberately driving career growth and development of Stanbic IBTC women.
Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc is a full service financial services group with a clear focus on three main business pillars – Corporate and Investment Banking, Personal and Business Banking and Wealth Management. Standard Bank Group, to which Stanbic IBTC Holdings belongs, is the largest African bank by assets and market capitalization. It is rooted in Africa with strategic representation in 20 countries on the African continent, including South Africa. Standard Bank has been in operation for 153 years and is focused on building first-class, on-the-ground financial services organizations in chosen countries in Africa and connecting other selected emerging markets to Africa and to each other, applying sector expertise, particularly in natural resources, globally.