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Post-COVID: Engage women to build smart economy, says FirstBank Chairman

Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., Mrs Ibukun Awosika, stresses need to involve women in building smart economy.

By Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

The Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., Mrs Ibukun Awosika, has stressed the need for the involvement of women in building a smart and resilient economy in the post-COVID-era.

Awosika said this at a webinar jointly organised by UN Women and Women In Successful Careers (WISCAR) in commemoration of International Women’s Month 2021 in Lagos on Thursday.

The webinar was titled: “An Inter-generational Dialogue on Women’s Leadership in the Private Sector.”

She said women were very crucial in building a resilient and sustainable economy in the post-COVID era.

“If we want to build back smartly post-COVID, and we want to build beyond the pandemic in a resilient and sustainable manner, we cannot leave out women because women represent smart economics.

“The dedication, the loyalty and reliability of women in the economic value chain tells us that we must commit to the process of ensuring that the role that women play in the economic value chain is not diminished by the effect of the pandemic.

“We need to build systems that keep women at work. We need to build systems that allow women to play to win at all fronts. We must find smart ways of keeping women at work,” Awosika said.

She called on the private sector to map out strategies that would enable women combine their jobs and their families without disparity.

“As employers of labour or corporate leaders, we must take corporate decisions that enable our women workforce to have equal opportunities to effectively work and deliver the right kind of value for our organisations.

“When we empower the women to add value to economic growth, we are building the economy of our nation in a way that our businesses will benefit from it,“ she added.

Delivering a keynote address on the topic, “The Role of Women’s Leadership in a COVID-19 Recovery for the Private Sector,” Awosika said women should be empowered to add value to the economy.

She said government and organisations should build a system that would work for women the same way businesses were able to restructure and align to new work practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Awosika noted that the pandemic had proved the case of women with the new normal way of doing things.

“The fact that the world did not economically shut down and that a lot more tools have been created to meet the dilemma of the world over the last 14 months, proves the fact that we can create a new way to work in way that women do not need to leave or abandon their careers because of their families,” she added.

Also speaking, the the United Nations Country Representative, Ms Comfort Lamptey, noted that 25 years after the Beijing conference, progress had been mixed in accommodating inclusion of women in the workforce.

Lamptey said: “There has been some progress in reducing maternal mortality, more girl child education and women in decision making but it has been slow.

“We need to look at continuity in canvasing gender equality because the women who were at the conference are 25 years older and there is need to groom fresh generation to carry on the agenda.”

She said the role of the private sector had a critical role to play in gender equality in Nigeria.

“Women are breaking glass ceilings but there is room to put more women in leadership roles in both the public and private sector.

“There is a need to build a strong representation of women in leadership and I hope that Nigeria will lead the world in gender equality,” she added.

Mrs Amina Oyagbola, Founder & Chairperson of WISCAR, said gender parity and equality were not only good for women alone but for all to achieve growth potential.

Oyagbola said it would take Nigeria  more years to close the gender gap if something urgent was not done. (NAN)

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