Female capacity offers opportunity for accelerated economic growth __WIEN

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The Nigerian economy holds potential to accelerate growth and development by 2025 if women are provided the opportunity to play exactly the same role as men in corporate leadership and economic management in the country.

The assertion forms one of the key policy proposals emerging from the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Women In Energy Network (WIEN) which was simultaneously hosted on physical and virtual platforms weekend from Lagos.

The group which comprises professional ladies in petroleum, electric power, renewable energy and associated industries reviewed the finding of McKenzie Institute which shows that 26 percent or roughly $25 trillion of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be added to the world economy by 2025 if women are empowered to make proportionate contributions with men.

Some in-person participants at the AGM event in Lagos

The group which drives advocacy for workplace gender balancing and supports girl-child STEM education with scholarships pledged a resolve to show the way to Africa’s professional and capacity renaissance by accelerating gender equality and investing in empowerment that generates large economic gains.

WIEN resolved at the AGM to contribute in transforming and amplifying the distribution of opportunities, resources, and choices for all genders to enable individuals contribute to development of the country.

“Globally, women are going through a renaissance and Nigerian women are not left behind,” declared the Chairman of the board of the group, Dr Cecilia Aqua Umoren, in her opening remarks at the AGM.

He noted that greater number of women is involved in shaping the future of the world, adding that the case is not significantly different in Nigeria where, according to her, women are showing strong resolve to create impacts the nation cannot ignore.

 ‘‘Most of our institutions are being impacted by advances in diversity, equity and inclusion. Today, there is a significant number of women in leadership positions in Nigeria,’’ she added.

President of WIEN, Mrs Funmi Ogbue, who shared the same position with Dr Umoren stated in her opening address, that the group has recorded significant milestones within the two years of its existence.

With an initial virtual meeting during the 2020 pandemic period, she recalled, WIEN has grown in membership, strength and partnership towards realization of its key advocacy roles and empowerment goals. She added that the group has transcended its initial task of brand awareness to delivering strong impacts through well thought out, meticulously planned and efficiently delivered programmes.

After a series of in-house meetings, the group had its first advocacy visit and meeting with the Executive Secretary of  Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) Simbi Wabote, on January 21, 2020 in  Lagos. This meeting, she said, aimed to better understand how WiEN can be a partner of choice, to work together to be able to aid sustainable development.

In providing a review of the short period of WIEN’s numerous activities since 2020, Mrs Ogbue listed some of the activities of the group to include trainings, STEM programmes, sponsorship and advocacy for gender diversity and inclusion across the full spectrum of the sectors in the economy.

She also counted numerous courtesy visits to critical government and private sector stakeholders, seminars, mastercalsses, workshops, conferences and many more where the WIEN flag has flown in the past two years. She also listed networks and partnerships struck by the group in the period.

 ‘‘By July 2020 we had obtained WiEN’s legal incorporation certificate and corresponding registration documents, we also had the WiEN constitution ready and approved. We organized a three-part industry Webinar on Zoom that was conducted with topics that focused on the Gas sector, Upstream and Downstream of the oil sector. This webinar turned out to be one of multiple we would eventually organize at WiEN with Masterclasses featuring initiatives, challenges and opportunities in the energy sector with speakers from various fields in the industry.’’

Mrs Ogbue told members that WIEN’s advocacy relationship with the government has since strengthened. She added that WIEN has started making contributions in shaping industry policies.

‘‘We were able to develop an advocacy partnership with Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform (FOSTER), which is a DFID funded programme, and they helped with developing a WiEN position paper which captured crucial matters like: full deregulation of the downstream sector, urgent changes to existing laws, like the Petroleum Equalization Fund, improved local refining capacity ,female inclusion and poverty alleviation programmes that would impact the women down the pyramid, and final passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.’’

She listed other successful efforts of the group to include advocacy for a woman board member on the NNPC Limited board, onboarding of WiEN to the MANSA platform, and a partnership agreement with African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM)/Mansa.


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