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WISCAR: Oyagbola advocates women’s representation in every sphere of life

Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR) 2022 Annual Leadership and Mentoring Conference may have come and gone, a clear message that resonated from the event was the key advocacy to ensure women’s representation in every sphere of life. The message is not new; it has been a consistent message from the United Nations (UN) that is pushing that agenda. Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, which is Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an issue that has been on the front burner. It was not surprising therefore that this became a major focus during the WISCAR conference which brought together over 600 guests physically in attendance at the Muson Centre, Lagos on December 10. More participants also joined the programme online.

Empower women

The Founder & Chairperson of WISCAR, Amina Oyagbola, in her speech at the 12th edition of WISCAR’s annual conference, left no one in doubt that the aim and objective of WISCAR is to empower women to enable them take their rightful positions in every aspect of the nation’s development. This is in line with the ideals of WISCAR, a leading not-for-profit and non-governmental organisation (NGO) that focuses on women empowerment and strategic mentoring of professional women. Speaking directly to women, she stated: “We must no longer wait to be given power; we must take it. “We must no longer wait for opportunities to be handed to us; we should create them….” The theme of the 2022 WISCAR conference is ‘For the Nation; The Power of Inclusion’.

Population strength

Out of Nigeria’s current population of roughly 220,003,842, females are 108,598,824, representing 49.4 per cent. This is almost half of the entire population, even though the current male population of 111,405,018 represents 50.6 per cent. This data issued by Countrymeters is clear that females are making up almost half of the entire population, yet in governance and other organisations, their presence and participation in terms of numbers have been limited. Though, international organisations including the UN and other stakeholders have been on this issue, insisting on reversing the trend, the inclusion of women at decision-making level in the country, is still tokenism. Perhaps, this is a major reason that made WISCAR to choose to highlight this problem at this year’s conference, with a view to collectively proffer needed solutions.

Chimamanda Adichie

The conference featured renowned Nigerian, award-winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the keynote speaker. Adichie was presented with an award, becoming the 11th recipient of the Distinguished WISCAR Award. She was supported by other distinguished speakers on the keynote panel including Adia Sowho, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria; Tosin Oshinowo, Director, CmDesign Atelier; and Hawwah Gambo, journalist and 2023 House of Representative candidate. Other speakers, policymakers, and thought leaders similarly discussed measures and commitment to closing the gender gap and empowering the next generation of professional women for leadership.

The event similarly spotlighted rec-ommendations for sustainable national development while creating an avenue for attendees who engaged in open dialogue and networking. The conference kick-started with the organisation’s flagship 1km mentoring walk on Saturday, December 3 at the scenic Eko Atlantic City. Commenting on WISCAR and its mission for women empowerment during a pre-conference briefing, Oyagbola said: “WISCAR is a formidable network of female professionals who are equipped to lead, socially innovate, and take critical decisions to contribute to the development and facilitation of a new chapter of experience in the workplace. As a country with a significant female population, there is a crucial need to build a generation of women for leadership and foster collaboration between the genders to sustain a buoyant and vibrant economy.

Our annual conference is a platform for networking and capacity building, unearthing useful recommendations that will influence required legal and policy changes for gender equality, inclusive growth, and sustainable national development.” Speaking in similar vein, the Executive Director WISCAR, Fabia Ogunmekan also reiterated the importance of WISCAR in proffering practicable solutions to national challenges. She said: “The central mission of the WISCAR is to develop women to build a better nation. Our annual leadership and mentoring conference will be leveraged to galvanise action for women’s leadership and active participation in all spheres of the nation’s development.

Through it, WISCAR aims to entreat society to take a deeper reflection into the subtle and outspoken ways women have been excluded, weigh the losses against the gains, and be restless and relentless for change, while stepping up to play a part in making this change for a more equal and equitable world happen.” WISCAR is committed to empowering and enhancing the capabilities of professional women to contribute to the creation and growth of developmental enterprises in Nigeria. This is achieved through its bespoke and well-structured mentoring programmes that provide strategic career guidance, inspiration, and support to career women. According to Ogunmekan, WISCAR has equipped over 15,000 professional women and men with relevant skills and competencies to effectively manage their careers, assume leadership positions, and contribute to nation-building

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