WIMAfrica set to give women stronger voice in manufacturing
It was an epoch event, the start of a new journey to give women a voice as female business executives in the manufacturing sector, on Wednesday, December 13 2017, launched a support group for women in that profession called Women in Manufacturing in Africa (WIMAfrica), at Westwood Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Adepeju Adebajo, Ogun state commissioner for agriculture, who pioneered the idea while she was managing director at Lafarge Africa Plc, believes WIMAfrica will inspire women to grow, learn, share and inspire each other for the growth of the manufacturing sector.
Ope Wemi-Jones, deputy general manager at Access Bank and one of the founding members of WIMAfrica, called on women to change the status quo. She said though cultural biases and misconceptions have been driven by men and women, the responsibility is on women to challenge the status quo. This she said can be done through consistent excellence in their chosen fields.
After the welcome address by founding members, there was a CEO panel, with the topic “Changing the narrative of manufacturing for women in Africa”, consisting of CCEO Lafarge Africa, CEO Unilever Nigeria Plc and moderated by Ini Abimbola.
Herbert Wigwe, managing director of Access Bank, commended the WIM Africa initiative, saying that Access Bank has always supported gender equality over the years and would support the WIMAfrica initiative.
Michel Puchercos, country CEO of Lafarge Africa Plc, said women if thoroughly empowered can potentially become the engine room of production for any society. According to him, Africa should take advantage of its huge young female population to advance the cause of manufacturing on the continent.
There was a segment titled “Perspective from a woman in manufacturing”, which was handled by Nike Ogunlesi, CEO Ruff n Tumble. “Todays’ unveiling of a strong platform for women in manufacturing, WIMAfrica is the start of the journey to giving women in manufacturing a voice. A voice to grow, as well as to mentor other women in sustainable success,” she said.
According to her, “Over the years, the general impression is that manufacturing is largely dominated by men, but that is not true.
“With my recent study of garment manufacturing In Indonesia and China, I came across some amazing women, women running factories that have 1,000 lines. One of the flights I took, the entire flying crew, from the captain -were all women on Qatar airline,” she said, adding that African women historically have dominated subsistent manufacturing; from agriculture to soap making, basket making, production of beautiful Adire fabrics, and Aso-Oke.”
Adding that, “We have to change the narrative of how women do business in Nigeria- we can transit from substantial manufacturing to industrial manufacturing.”
“I am proud to be associated with WIMAfrica, I am proud to be a flag bearing testimonial for WIMAfrica. This is not just another women’s group; it is a women’s group with purpose, a vision- with clarity of purpose and intention- the focus is to give women in manufacturing strength, courage, the idea that there is indeed no limits whatsoever on how big their companies can be. If we are able to achieve this, we will build a better and stronger nation, Africa and world,” Ogunlesi said in conclusion.
During the event, the banner and logo for the group was launched amidst fanfare. There was also a book presentation titled “The Power of 100” chronicling the lives of 100 women who have helped shaped the country. The book was put together by a team made up of eight women and four men, working alongside Ernst and Young.
Giving the vote of thanks, Ibilola Alao described WIM Africa as a partner company initiative between Lafarge and Access Bank. She urged all in attendance to take the message out to their family members who are women, “that there is a new force in town that will be changing the face of women in manufacturing and other sectors of the society.”
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