Ibukun Awosika, Chairperson, First Bank of Nigeria PLC has declared that Nigeria can better fight poverty, unemployment and economic imbalance if women of working age were properly empowered with prerequisite skills and credit facility to start up or improve on their existing businesses.
She noted that the nation experiences slow economic growth and 50% of its economic potentials are locked up since women empowerment has been given the needed attention and priority by both public and private sectors, which has in return, affected socio-economic life of the nation, leaving large percentage of the nation’s population unemployed.
Speaking at the opening session of the International Law Students’ Association Conference held at Oduduwa Hall of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife on Saturday, Awosika said the statistics of gender distribution as regards Nigeria’s population says women account for 48% of the working population in the country, and a large percentage of them are either jobless, dependent or not creative.
She stated that non empowerment of such a high number of people that would have contributed positively to Nigerian economy would definitely have negative impacts on the general wellbeing of the populace, just as she said education only is not enough, especially young women, skills acquisition and credit facility must be provided for women population if the economic status must improve.
The Chairperson of First Bank of Nigeria PLC, who spoke on Conference theme “Rethinking the Role of Women in Modern Day Africa”, said long held belief that women with good economic means or career cannot keep home front should be discarded, noting that she had been married for 27 years and despite daring challenge of keeping her marriage she had managed to combine effectively, managing her home and business.
She said, “I was three years old in my business when I got married. And I have been married for 27 years. You can be a successful career woman or business owner and still keep homefront intact. Women constitute 48% of Nigeria. If that huge number is left with no meaningful contribution, economy cannot grow.
“Women can manage business succesfully, but we need to empower them. I urge you all to follow your dream with passion, the result is always big. The place of your birth is beyond your control, but what you make of your life is what matters.
“As long as there is life and you have opportunity of education, you can change the world. Inclusive leadership is necessary and only women provide that. We are good managers, but we need empowerment.
“Good self leadership within our little space as Nigerians is necessary to build a better country. Process of choosing leaders should not be comprised. A wise man want woman to flourish so as to help the family. Petty things must not take women out of path of leadership.
“Almost 50% business potentials of Nigeria are locked up because women were not empowered. Every Nigerian must be ready to lead right within his or her space. Women should work towards retaining values in them over a long time.”
BOLA BAMIGBOLA, Osogbo