International Women’s Day is a special day set aside to commemorate the movement for women’s rights. This year, CSR-in-Action Advocacy sought to engage the nation on two of the most active social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook) to discuss issues related to women advancement in Nigeria. The purpose of the discussion was mainly to create awareness on the need for women’s advancement in Nigeria.
In order to use this special day to showcase how citizens can forge for women’s advancement in the Nigerian economy, we invited Ogechukwu Modie, Chief of Staff to the Honorable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources to a tweet chat tagged ‘Women Advancement in Nigeria’s Economy’.
Ogechukwu Modie was an appropriate choice for our chat, not only because she is an accomplished citizen of Nigeria, she holds a high position in the Nigerian economy and has advanced to that level through hard-work and dedication. In this tweet chat with CSR-In-Action, she spoke on the difficulties women face in the workplace, on how women can fight for what is right, and encouraged women to see no limits to what they can achieve in the Nigerian economy.
- To get the discussion rolling, what is your definition of ‘women advancement’?
In this context – I will consider the word advance as a verb- ‘move forward in a purposeful way’ key words – move, forwards, purpose. Women moving forwards in a purposeful way in Nigeria – career, business, politics critical to the growth of the Nation and our future as a Nation.
- How seriously do you think Nigerians take and react to women’s advancement?
On a scale of 1 – 10, I will put it at 3 – my key reason is that a lot of lip service is paid to this but no visuals on actual change; women still face discrimination at the workplace, in the society, we are still under represented everywhere.
- Do you think organisations in Nigeria are fully committed to gender diversity?
Fully? No – visuals still lack a show of full Commitment, we do have a few that are focused on ensuring equal opportunities exist, women CEOs, women in politics, however it’s still not enough – we are slightly more than half of Nigeria’s population!
- What are some patterns you’ve noticed over the years about women at work?
Patterns of what they experience at work? – We have both positive and negative patterns – positive patterns are in places that’s are gender sensitive, these places ensure women are given equal opportunities- pay, positions, welfare, negative patterns tend to be in places that are male dominated and governed heavily by culture, pay discrimination, stereotypical roles, pass overs and sexual harassment, bullying, poor welfare packages etc.
- Are there certain industries where women’s advancement is more difficult?
We do have quite a few sectors – Oil & Gas, Engineering, Construction, Media, and I’m referring to visual roles – Not enough. Politics too – it poses yet a difficult terrain for women.
- During the years of building your career, were there any challenges you faced as a woman?
I have always and still face two – age and gender, but every experience over the past 19 yrs teaches me staying power and focus. it’s about a firm belief in your capabilities, your persona, and your femininity, call it grace and guts, being a woman is absolutely beautiful – on a job- it’s heaven sent to the persons you empower and influence as a leader
- Will professional groups dedicated to advancing women in the workforce get the job done?
Slowly and steadily – yes! Women in Management, Business, and Public Service (WIMBIZ) has a program -women on boards, I believe we keep on at it – it will progress women. We need legislation that supports some of these programs- we need more lobbying by male colleagues and politicians. Women still need a lot of support.
- How can men support this discourse and cause?
They can support legislation, lobby more, create space for women, be conscious of these challenges, be change agents on this issue, stop the stereotyping, be feminists, encourage their women (mothers, wives, sisters, friends, daughters), be more collaborative in the workplace, political office, etc.
- What policies can we put into place to move organisations toward gender equality?
Plenty- 1. Every Board – publicly quoted MUST have female board members 2. Public Sector Must also do same for Boards, Welfare packages should be reviewed and standardized across industries- especially those that are male dominated – equity! clear and visual prosecution for sex offenders, equal pay, finally, equal opportunities should exist – we all get a shot at the top role
10. What skills do women need to advance in their corporate career? Are those skills any different than those men need?
No! First – understand – it’s the best person for the job – not a man’s job or a woman’s job – nothing like that! If you are good enough, go for it! Let nothing hold you back. You are as good as the next man! Most times even better! be bold, be beautiful, wear your femininity – it’s your uniqueness! Be ambitious, play the game, be the best, be on top
11. What do you think is the game changer to get more women to shatter glass ceilings?
I see no glass ceiling! I see open skies; I see no limits! I see possibilities, I see greatness. Women need to start seeing and stop listening to these stoppers there no stopping us if we just see.
12. What is your advice to women following this chat on what they can do to better advance their careers?
Be Bold! Be Ambitious! Be Daring! Be a #BAD girl! Have grace and guts! God’s got you! Power is taken not given! Don’t sit back and take no for an answer! Rise up and take it