Group introduces programme to spur young women into leadership roles in Nigeria

Young Women holding hands at the event
Young Women holding hands at the Leadership programme

Concerned by the need to get more women involved in leadership in governance and other public processes in Nigeria, a group of women on Monday gathered in Abuja at the maiden edition of Young Women in Leadership event.

Stephanie Adams of the Premium Times Centre of Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) who convened the event at the Premium Times boardroom under the theme #OnBecomingIntentional said it was inspired by the need to ignite this fire in young women.

Ms Adams said the Young Women in Leadership programme was designed as a forum for young women, including students, to come together and identify common values inherent in them in order to uplift each other.

Speaking at the event, the Publisher of PREMIUM TIMES, Dapo Olorunyomi, said unlike in the past where women were alienated from workspaces, especially in the newsroom, the best brains are recruited into his organisation, irrespective of gender.

He said young women should be encouraged in finding their place in the workspace and commended the management of PREMIUM TIMES for deliberating looking out for women when hiring.

But how can women make themselves indispensable and irreplaceable in this age where productivity is of essence and staying at one’s best is ultimate? Chioma Agwuegbo outlined at the event practical steps for achieving this, which she titled “goal setting exercise”. As a woman, she said, you set goals in order to have a picture of what you want to see, keep track of important dates and be accountable to oneself. Take out time to ask yourself:

“Where am I, where can I be? How do I get to where I want to be and who are my allies?” It is by answering these questions that the right goals are set, and leadership can be attained she said.

Adenike Aloba, a trained broadcast journalist and a producer who is one of the facilitators of the event, said leadership is the betterment of oneself, an evolving journey to self that has no end.

In her presentation titled “Developing Leadership skills/ Work-life balance (Relevance in the workplace), Mrs Aloba said as a woman, there is need to have a clear perception of one’s strength, weakness, emotions, value, motivation, and thoughts, and understand that there is a tipping point; a point where everything could crumble if the balance is not found.

“It is not about looking at yourself in the mirror and reinforcing ‘I can do it’, instead what you should tell and ask yourself is ‘how can I do it?’”, she stated.

According to her, this is where ruthless objectivity comes to play. Instead of pointing fingers at the system and her environment, a woman needs to analyse each of the four fingers pointing back at her and be sure of the destination her decisions are leading her to.

“You need to introduce yourself to you. Online questionnaires exist to help you discover yourself, but the greatest tool is you,” she emphasised.

In the midst of this tough objectivity to oneself, another speaker, Ebele Oputa, noted that to become a woman of positive influence, the little things done-the little acts of love go a long way in announcing leaders, so instead of losing oneself to the world, strife to discover self, as this will have a calming effect on one’s personality.

Speaking on “Women in Governance”, Mariam Laushi, the National Publicity Secretary of Modern Democratic Party and a pioneer member of the Not Too Young Leadership team, said that as a woman, it requires courage and a tough skin to be in governance. This courage is not just for her, but for the people she is carrying along because the moment she begins to stand out, criticism sets in.

“In the parliament today, you will find more men than women and their decisions often times do not favour women, because the percentage of women there is very minute,” she noted.

Ms Laushi advised young women to create wealth for themselves, especially when there is an opportunity and build alliances not only among themselves but with men as well. She also encouraged them to have a self-identity as this defines the leadership path they choose to follow.

“If you are going to lead and I am not just talking about politics, what exactly are you standing out for, what will be the worth of your life’s work?” she questioned.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Ms Adams, the organiser of the event, said the Young Women in Leadership, a quarterly programme, was born out of her quest to becoming intentional about positively influencing other women, no matter how small the amount may be.

She said, “Last year after attending the Fellowship of Reporters in Leadership Position (FRLP), it dawned on me that there is need to replicate my knowledge on other women who will also do same, creating a culture of leadership overtime.

“There is a need to mainstream the gender in the media because when you read through stories published, you will hardly find women interviewed as the main sources, and even when they are, their voices are usually captured at the end. Does that mean that there are no women in the oil and gas sector, in building, in the judiciary?”

Young Women in Leadership holds quarterly. Ms Adams said the impact will be measured over time in how it is helping in transforming women into assuming leadership roles.

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