Today, not a single country can claim to have achieved gender parity, multiple obstacles remain unchanged in law and in culture, women and girls continue to be undervalued. They work more, get less and have fewer choices, experienced multiple forms of violence at home and in public spaces. Women earn 23% less than men globally, women occupy 24% of parliamentary seats worldwide, 1 in 3 have experienced physical or sexual violence and 200 Million girls-women have suffered genital mutilation. Women stand at the frontline of the COVID’19 crisis as Health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers and some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. Women leaders have demonstrated their skills, knowledge, and networks to effectively lead in COVID’19 response and recovery efforts.
The International women’s day (IWD) is a global day marked annually on the 8th of March and has occurred for over a century with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. The global celebration of women’s day is a time of reflection for how far women have come, advocate for what is needed, and celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, and action to continue breaking down barriers.
To commemorate the IWD, RHHF celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and the day also marks a call for action for accelerating gender parity as the theme for international women’s day 2021 Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in COVID’19 world. RHHF implemented a 2-day activity with Kwara state association of women’s tailor, Oko Erin, Ilorin, Kwara state. The aim of the event was to celebrate women’s full, effective participation and decision making during the pandemic, to eliminate violence for achieving gender equality and celebrating women empowerment and women’s full and effective participation in leadership and balancing the home front.
Advocacy was conducted to the president of Kwara state association of women tailors Mrs J.B Animashahun, and the Sensitization with their union members was conducted on the 2nd of March, 2021 to the Kwara state zonal heads association of women tailors. The sensitization captured the celebration of women social, economic, cultural and political achievements and it also marked a call for action for accelerating gender parity and the women were supported with nose masks to curb the spread of COVID’19. The women were sensitized on; Gender inequalities, Women in leadership – balancing professional and leadership skills in society. COVID’19 preventive measures, and were admonished to have self-confidence self-esteem, self-love and be diligent in all of their doings to achieve generation equality where we say no to harmful traditional, cultural and social norms.
Also, a short documentary was created by RHHF to celebrate women achievement during the pandemic and to encourage women to develop their potentials and inspire hard work for huge productivity. RHHF interviewed some staff and women engaged to participant in the production of nose masks and reusable sanitary pads. A total number of forty-eight (48) women and 4 men were reached during the sensitization at Kwara state association of women Tailors.
As indicated by the theme of the year 2021, “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 World”, Royal Heritage Health Foundation (RHHF) commemorated the day with a seminar on the 8th, targeting her staff. The seminar topic discussed were “Women full and effective participation in leadership and balancing home front and caring for your whole self”. The program conducted at RHHF Head Office involved lecture sessions by guest speakers, RHHF documentary display, poems and games.
The CEO, RHHF staff, Guest speakers from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, a representative of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and women engaged at the RHHF Production centre were present at the celebration.
The Chief Executive Officer, Mr Olusoji Sogunro appreciated the RHHF staff for the implementation of the program and the guest speakers. He stated that according to the theme of the year “#Choose to challenge” he joins the whole world to advocate for better opportunities for women in leadership roles and unity to ensure equal opportunities for women in all areas of expertise as women and children are most vulnerable, the poorest and marginalized in the country. The CEO buttressed that equal opportunities amongst both genders can be achieved through education, empowerment and the creation of awareness to eliminate gender inequalities in society. Furthermore, citing Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female African Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and the CEO encouraged RHHF female staff to be inspired and also aspire to become a success story.
Lastly, the CEO appreciated women’s impact on society, he mentioned that women cover 80% organization’s staff and due to the Covid-19 pandemic, women have been engaged in the production of face masks, liquid soap, hand sanitizers and menstrual pads. He revealed that the foundation’s major activities and responses are implemented in the North-East with women as the direct beneficiaries, underpinning that with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), over 180 repaired VVF survivors were empowered in over 12 local government areas in Borno state and were supported with #56,000 seed grants.
The Deputy Director of Nursing, (DDN) University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Mrs Olabisi Ogunyemi. stated that the leadership roles of women in the country and beyond are increasing and room for leadership is widening to accommodate women at homes, careers, religious and political settings.
Also, she sensitized the staff on characteristics of women: They are more transformational than men, Focus more on task completion, Promotion of collaboration amongst team members, More subtle approach to carry others along, she mentioned some barriers women face in leadership, some of the points mentioned are institutional mindsets e.g. social and religious mindset, unequal treatment, gender barrier, low self-concept/esteem, women naturally have heavier responsibilities than men, individual mindset, lifestyle choices, unpleasant experiences when growing up. Furthermore, the staff were educated on the risks associated with leadership roles, how to manage the risk and how to be a successful leader and homemaker.
The staff were urged to always balance their career and home to be successful and tips to emerge as a successful leader and homemaker were stated as humility, resilience, gratitude, having a mentor(s), positive networking and taking job associated risks.
The Assistant Director of Nursing, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Mrs Naomi Tolorunshe stated that caring for the whole self, entails physical, emotional, social, spiritual cleanliness and wholeness. The participants were sensitized on why, how and when to take care of themselves. More so, the participants were advised to eat balanced diet, conduct spontaneous self-appraisal, discover and develop potentials, abstain from unpleasant attitudes and people that might cause physical and emotional havoc to their health and stability. A total number of 21 women and 8 men of RHHF staff were enlightened.