Today is International Women’s Day. March 8, 2017, is a day set aside to celebrate bold, courageous and intelligent women who have impacted positively on society.
Each year International Women’s Day sees thousands of events – global gatherings, conferences, awards, exhibitions, festivals, corporate events, speaking events, online digital gatherings and more which are held by women’s networks, corporations, charities, educational institutions, government bodies, political parties, the media and further communities and this year, discussions will be focused on the interesting theme, #BeBoldForChange.
As the world marks this special day, BusinessDay is highlighting excellence in women who have positively changed the narrative of Nigeria as a country by adding value to our economy. Over the years, we have called some heroines, as they have done their bit to make our country a better place.
Oluwatoyin Sanni; Group CEO, United Capital Plc. a leading African investment bank, author, pastor, wife and mother of two, Oluwatoyin Sanni has found a way to combine all bits and pieces to create a beautiful hat that fits.
Named as one of the Top 25 CEOs’ by the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2014, she has played leading roles in landmark deals for the investment bank such as the multi-trillion naira AMCON Bond Issues, Flour Mills Debt Issues, Lagos State Bond Programmes, the recent Franco-African Investment Fund amongst many others.
Key in these investment programmes are blossoming trade opportunities between Nigeria, within Africa and the rest of the world.
Chinelo Anohu-Amazu; For the many reforms in the otherwise bedevilled pension scheme industry in Nigeria, Chinelo Anaohu-Amazu has been highly instrumental. A lawyer, public servant and administrator, she currently serves as the Director-General of the National Pension Commission.
She was part of the Pension Reform Committee which produced the Draft Bill that was the basis for the Pension Reform Act 2004 and became the pioneer Commission Secretary/Legal Adviser of the PenCom. She was pivotal to the growth of registration of contributors from 5.39 million in December 2012 to 5.89 million as at October, 2013. Total pension assets under management also grew by N63 billion as at October, 2013.
She also established the Commission’s Contact Center to improve customer service for the pension industry and established the Commission’s 6 zonal offices, 5 of which have been formally commissioned.
Ibukun Abiodun Awosika; Is the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, an author, a motivational speaker, business mogul, wife and mother.
As an award winning entrepreneur, she is constantly in the business of youth empowerment, mentoring in business and serves on the board of the Women In Business group, an organisation that supports and provides mentorship opportunities for young business and career women in the country.
Her drive does not stop there. In partnership with missionaries around the country, she supports the provision of basic amenities, educational and health supplies that improve the living conditions of disadvantaged people around the country. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Not much can be said about African literature without reference to the works of this eccentric woman who has set African literature on the globe.
With three novels under her belt and numerous short stories and articles, her award list is endless.
Nothing however, beats Adichie’s commitment to gender equality and bridging the gender gap in line with the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.
In her ‘’We Should All Be Feminist’’ TEDx talk in 2012, she talks passionately about lopsided cultural gender roles in Africa and its negative effects on the holistic formation of men and women who maintain the fair treatment of man or woman in any context.
She has recently published a short letter titled Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions and now champions a movement that involves men and boys in the fight for equal rights for men and women
Tara Fela-Durotoye; Denied a loan by the banks for a budding beauty sector in which they didn’t see any promise, Tara trudged on solo to build the first makeup school and studio in Nigeria and opened a pathway for the now bridal make-up profession in the beauty industry.
She has not only been a brave, bold businesswoman and pace setter in her industry. Passionate about empowerment, she constantly churns out young make-up artist through her various training schools around the country and assists in setting up entrepreneurs with her beauty rep programme. She also gives back by mentoring a younger generation of women leaders and businesswomen.
Troubled with the counterfeiting menace that cheats businesses and creative out of revenues and credibility, she recently took a bold step to launch a UnitedWeStand campaign with stakeholders in the beauty, entertainment and pharmaceutical industries.
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala: Okonjo Iweala is the first woman to be the Finance Minister and the Foreign Minister of Nigeria. From 2007- 20011, she served as the Managing Director of the World Bank.During her first term as Minister of Finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, she spearheaded negotiations with the Paris Club of Creditors that led to the wiping out of US$30 billion of Nigeria’s debt, including the outright cancellation of US$18 billion. In 2003 she led efforts to improve Nigeria’s macroeconomic management including the implementation of an oil-price based fiscal rule where revenues accruing above a reference benchmark oil price were saved in a special account, “The Excess Crude Account” which helped to reduce macroeconomic volatility.She also introduced the practice of publishing each state’s monthly financial allocation from the Federal Government of Nigeria in the newspapers. This action went a long way in increasing transparency in governance.With the support of the World Bank and the IMF to the Federal Government of Nigeria, she helped build an electronic financial management platform-the Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS), including the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), helping to curtail corruption in the process.
Ndidi Nwuneli; Ndidi is the founder of Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability, Professionalism Africa (LEAP Africa), a non-profit organization inspiring, empowering and equipping startups and social entrepreneurs for personal and collective transformation. Her other non-profit, Ndu Ike Akunuba (meaning Life, Strength and Wealth) is geared towards empowering women and equipping them for a better and healthier life.
Together with her husband, she is also the co-founder of Sahel Capital and AACE Foods, a manufacturing/ agricultural consulting firm and a food processing and distribution firm respectively. In August 2015, AACE Foods launched a Feed the Children Fund via crowd funding to raise resources to feed at least 2,500 internally displaced children for a period of three months.
Amina Mohammed: Inducted into the Nigerian women’s hall of fame in 2007, Amina J.Mohammed is currently the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.Mohammed was the Senior Special Assistant to three different Presidents of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals from the year 2000 to 2014 and was one of the six women that made the cut as a minister under the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari who appointed her as the Minister of Environment, before she resigned from the Nigerian Federal Executive Council on the 24th of February 2017. Prior to attaining her new position as Deputy Secretary General of UN, Amina Mohammed served as Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Post-2015 development planning. From 2002-2005, Mohammed served as coordinator of the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project.
Her high achievements and relentless efforts to place global map and improve the country’s economic standing made her induction into the Nigerian women’s hall of fame well deserving and necessary.
Mo- Abudu: Mosunmola Abudu, popularly known as Mo Abudu, is the first woman in Nigeria to own a Pan African Television channel. The media mogul launched EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first Global Black Multi-Broadcast Entertainment Network on the 1st of July 2013 and was recognised by Forbes Media. Abudu is the founder of The Inspire Africa Foundation, a human investment arm of Inspire Africa Ltd. It is registered as a non-profit organisation focused on raising funds to implement society-transforming initiatives such as protection of street children. Her talk show, ‘Moments with Mo’, is the first syndicated daily talk show on African regional television and on it, she has interviewed some of the biggest influencers in the world, including Presidents of large nations, Nobel Laureates, former US secretary of State; Hilary Clinton and others. Described by Forbes as Africa’s most successful woman, Mo Abudu has succeeded in rising to the top of the ladder in Nigeria’s media industry. Honoured with a number of laurels and awards, she has been classified as a woman to emulate in the Media industry.
Oby Ezekwesili: Former minister of education and co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls group, Oby Ezekwesili is greatly admired for her courage, endurance and relentlessness towards working to protect the rights of human beings especially the girl child in Nigeria. In the aftermath of the nearly 300 mainly Christian girls were abducted from Chibok in Borno State Nigeria by insurgent group Boko Haram, Ezekwesili was instrumental to the start of the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media, which trended internationally and spurred action from the Nigerian government and international community to look for the kidnapped students. Ezekwesili has since kept abreast of the issue, going to Chibok herself and making sure that the recovered girls were properly rehabilitated.
Published March 2017 on Business Day