The UN Women Nigeria country head chats with gender activists

Connecting up-and-coming gender activists with the older generation of rights advocates is a necessary strategy for passing on knowledge and strategy on the one hand, and the infusion of innovation on the other. This is the mandate Generation Equality seeks to fulfill: to bridge the generational gap in gender leadership roles.

Date: Friday, June 18, 2021

The UN Women Country Representative in Nigeria, Ms Comfort Lamptey held a special Women’s Month Conversation on 21 March, 2021. This conversation included actresses such as Blessing Ocheido, a disability rights advocate; Abbiba Princewill, Hillary Rodham Clinton Scholar; Adeola Azeez, founding Trustee Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) and Abosede George-Ogan, co-founder of ElectHer to discuss women leadership and explore possibilities within the Generation Equality Campaign.

The conversations revolved around the theme for the International Women’s Day 2021 ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”.  

Abbiba Princewill, who was part of the UN Women Shadowing Scheme - a mentorship program that paired young, aspiring women leaders with women in leadership positions - in government, in the diplomatic space, and in civil society - for career path guidance- described the experience as life-changing.

“ As a young person, I’m ecstatic about women in leadership and how intergenerational can help get other women into positions of leadership. The gender gap is quite wide and the intergenerational dialogue has the potential for women to close the gap as quickly as possible. The Shadowing Scheme was life-affirming. And in some ways, changed my career path. It made it easy for me to make a career pivot. Having a mentor to help make a career change gave me confidence. So at the end of the shadowing scheme, and when COVID happened, I started to apply for fellowships, and opportunities opened up for me so I could gain more expertise.”, Abbiba Princewill, Hillary Rodham Clinton Scholar.

The economic and health pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic on families further exposed the disadvantaged groups, including women, children and people with disabilities to even greater risks. Their safety and access to basic needs were, and still, of paramount concern.

“…The pandemic has been especially challenging for women and girls with disabilities. I was part of a research study carried out by the British Council on the effect of the pandemic of persons with disabilities, and we found that it was especially challenging for persons with disabilities. In terms of human rights abuse, women with disabilities faced a number of pervasive experiences during the pandemic. Most of them were unable to earn a living due to the restriction in movement. They could not leave the home to fend for themselves.”, Blessing Ocheido, disability rights advocate. 

On strategies to get more women elected into positions of authority, it has been recognized that the legislature had a role to play in putting in place laws that support women to seek leadership positions, but also acknowledged that women are also affected by the lack of adequate financing and infrastructures that provide a level playing field.

“Women need money for communication, they need money - because of violence against women - for protection. They need money to hire the right team to support their campaign. It’s important for people to understand that we're not saying give women money to buy votes. We are helping them to build infrastructure that actually wins elections. Consequently, ElectHer, at the beginning of March launched Agenda35 - a $10 million fund that is going to empower 1000 women in the pipeline and encourage them to decide to run for political offices, but directly funds 35 women across all positions.”, Abosede George-Ogan, co-founder of ElectHer.

Abosede George-Ogan has seized the opportunity to report that the project will support all women willing to vie for political positions, including women with disabilities, as a way of fixing the systemic challenges that exclude women from leadership and other endeavours.

On her part, Ms Adeola of WIMBIZ cautioned women to prepare themselves for leadership roles, noting that mentorship programs are critical to this goal. According to her, “mentorship gives hope, supports and encourages younger women to aspire for positions of responsibility”

More information:
  • Faith Bwibo - Communication Specialist, UN Women Nigeria - faith.bwibo@unwomen.org