Think Equal- Cameroon Embassy hosts an African Themed Women’s Day Event in Lagos

Written by Adenike Bamigbade

At about 10.30am on Saturday, Olamide, Uche and I sat with other women in the auditorium of the Cameroon Consulate General. We had just been served breakfast and the anticipated event for the day was about to start.

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The conversation about #BalanceForBetter, this year’s theme for the International Women’s Day is best analyzed in all areas affecting gender equality and balance for our society. We need a balanced world where men and women have equal share and access to opportunities. Also, the society including the workplace needs to understand the uniqueness of each gender and encourage women to lead a balanced life for a better world. A woman should thrive in all ramifications and should not be deprived because of the burden of a family or her health. This was the basis of discussions at the event on Friday which included a panel discussion, health consultation, business education, and business exhibitions.

“A nation with 50% of women should not be poor”- Mr Tokunbo Habeeb

Antonia Beri moderated the panel discussion, each speaker identified issues and proffered solutions on how the African women can think equal, build smart and innovate for change. Indeed, the African women have more to deal with in our stereotypical society and to change this narrative and achieve a #BalanceForBetter society in Africa; we need more men to support this movement to ensure an equal society. Mr. Tokunbo Habeeb, the only male among the panelists, stressed the need for more men to support Goal 5 for a gender-balanced society. He as well noted the different opportunities available for women in Nigeria and highlighted how women could benefit immensely.

Uche Arinze and Olamide Olatunbosun posed for the camera. Photographer: Adenike Bamigbade

After a short mind reorientation on Think Equal by Ms. Tita Young and Ms. Claude Nader, more women joined the queue for the health consultation and the business education booth just a few meters from where the panel discussion was going on. There seems not to be more time for women to harness their business skills and press for progress in actualizing a balanced society. Olamide, Uche and I joined the queue of women as we met specialists from the Lagoon Hospitals and MDoc in a quick health checkup. I was happy that I had the time to sit and be diagnosed by a professional. This helped me realize how much I have least prioritized my health but instead focused on ensuring my family is healthy like most women would do.

“Gender equality is not just a fundamental human right, it is important for a peaceful and prosperous world”- Yeye Adenike Shobaje, VP, Lagos Chambers of Commerce

Business opportunities for women cut across different areas and women should not be scared to think outside the box and explore blue oceans many people are not considering. One of these is the Waste Recycling Industry which Mrs. Matilda Taiwo is unashamedly turning wastes into wealth. Mrs. Matilda Taiwo, the CEO of Goodware Stitches Ltd spoke passionately about the need for women to think innovatively and challenge themselves. Using her life as a significant focus, Mrs. Taiwo highlighted how she dared all odds to explore opportunities many disregarded thus protecting the environment from harmful wastes and building a sustainable wealth through that channel.

Representing Mrs. Toki Magboguye, the Deputy President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce, Yeye Adenike Shobaje in her presentation explained that women are not in competition with men. She spoke extensively about women challenging themselves to explore new opportunities and not wait for the man to take the first step. She also highlighted some societal disadvantage of being a woman and called for women to air their voice louder and be in solidarity with other women. Mrs. Shobaje left us with questions to ponder. “Why are we where we are and what do we need to do?” She asked. These questions should guide us in making strategic alliances to fight the gender battle and for women to be solidarity with one another.

The event ended with a photo session with members of the United Nations Information Center and the host, Consulate General of Cameroon in Lagos.