I want to appreciate the organizers of this summit, especially the Executive members, for being very proactive and thoughtful, and for deeming it fit to educate the females in this higher institution to have the right mindset to occupy their positions in the society duly.
It is a thing of utmost joy, however, that I am privileged to be standing today before the influential people of the world. We are all fortunate as females in the higher institution to have been given the opportunity by our parents to have formal education since education is the bedrock of development.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population as well as half of its potentials. A woman is a unique creature of God capable of reproducing whatever is placed in her hands, including an entire nation. A woman is a refined product who is endowed richly with multi-tasking abilities as well as great power of influence. There is a common saying that “educating a female child is the gateway to educating a nation.” This statement translates to the fact that a society that does not educate her females is on her way to extinction.
In the olden days, the societal belief was that the place of a woman, regardless of her education, is the KITCHEN and also that she has no voice and, therefore, cannot occupy any position in the society. Due to this fact, she was denied education and utterly relegated to the background. Thus, in the quest to ensure every woman is educated, the United Nations has shown tremendous support for gender equality to secure their fundamental human rights.
Interestingly, female education has hitherto been embraced in the Southern part of Nigeria, and the awareness has significantly increased that even the indigents in the society struggle to ensure quality education for all their children, including the females.
However, as much as formal education is vital for the development of the nation, it is not sufficient. Our society can only experience positive advancement if personal development, determination, and strong-will fuel formal education.
A woman of influence with her formal education must undergo personal development coupled with character building. By personal development, I mean, she needs to have a clear vision with personal goals and dreams, develop her self confidence, self-esteem, assertive skills, self-respect, etc. As women, just like any of God’s creatures, we have to discover who we are and why we exist. There is a common saying that “abuse is inevitable if the purpose of a thing is not known.”. It is essential to stress that every creature of God is unique and has significant contributions to make in the world. However, many die and live below life expectations and their God-given abilities because they refused to discover their uniqueness. This contributes to why the grave remains the wealthiest reservoir of untapped talents.
So as women, a critical and irreplaceable strategy to achieve empowerment is Self-awareness and discovery. Upon this platform, a woman should occupy her rightful position in the family and the society at large.
The importance of self-confidence and healthy esteem cannot be over-emphasized in the life of a woman. She needs to build her confidence and esteem and compose herself in the manner she will be respected by all. Her appearance also matters considerably because her dressing style will determine who gets attracted to her and will also define a great deal, how she is addressed. A woman must believe in herself and develop herself based on her aspirations and dreams in life. She must never compare herself with another because everyone was uniquely created and fashioned by God. She only needs to discover why and how she was fashioned and in addition explore all opportunities she has to shine forth in uncompromising and truthful ways.
She must be assertive; by this, I mean the ability to say “No” politely to behaviors or practices that violate her values and beliefs. Also, she should respect constituted authority, be a person of integrity as well as have an interactive and friendly character.
A woman must be matured physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, intellectually and in all ramifications so as to be able to function maximally despite the enormous tasks and responsibilities as a (wife, mother, sister, sister-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, friend, worker, Christian or Muslim, while still equally pampering herself to look good always)
Furthermore, it will be impossible to thoroughly describe the qualities and roles of a woman if I don’t refer to the book of Proverbs Chapter 31 that clearly defines an ideal woman and her purpose in the world. This chapter of the Bible articulated the multi-tasking, organizational, and leadership qualities of a woman.
A woman was described to be a priceless and indispensable personality. The world cannot exist without the invaluable characteristics of women. For more emphasis on this point and to further corroborate the roles and importance of women in the society, I will want us to consider certain cultural practices in some places like Ondo City that designate a day tagged “Odunmoko” where women are forbidden from all outdoor activities and confined to their homes. Men say that the city is usually deserted on this day because most men also decide to stay at home with their wives.
Other organizational and leadership qualities of women highlighted in the book of Proverbs include trustworthiness, hard work, and industriousness, goal-getter, honorable, modest, wise, generous, and impactful. Just imagine how restful the world will be if all the women in the world have all the qualities described of a virtuous woman in the Bible. I, therefore strongly recommend that this chapter of the Bible should be a reference at all times for all women (both young and old) so that the world can be shaped to be a better place.
As women with God-given naturally endowed exceptional skills and qualities, we need not be contented only by changing our last names to our husband’s names, or by just warming the beds of our husbands without making the necessary impact in the world. The naturally endowed skills and capabilities of women make them pivotal to all decisions made in their homes, workplaces, religious homes, in politics, and society at large. She is only required to activate the dormant skills consciously to take her place as a leader wherever she lives, works,and plays.
Even though, as women, we have different aspirations and various choices to make in life, we should always remember to strive to make a significant and meaningful impact as the opportunity presents itself to us. Our positions and powers should never be misused and abused because there will always be a reward for every one of our actions. Women should live exemplary lives with good legacies and use their positions to put smiles on people’s faces always and never to take advantage of those who are vulnerable or less powerful than us.
Every woman should build herself to be a leader worthy of emulation because leaders are made and not born. Living a life of positive impact is preceded by self-development since no one can give what he or she does not have. A woman should endeavor to be a leader, first to her children by motivating as well as showing examples of good virtues required for a successful life through her lifestyle, after that, to others in the workplace and the society. In my opinion, many young people are victims of social vices such as teenage pregnancy, drug and substance abuse, etc. today because they lack exemplary leaders as mothers who could influence them positively.
Age, position, profession, etc. do not connote leadership, but a leader is whoever is birthed by vision, driven by passion, and has the capabilities to influence a group of people towards the achievement of a goal. The requirement of leadership is a personal vision, which is the ability to visualize one’s goal as an accomplished fact.
Also, a leader should have the persuasive skills as well as leadership styles and qualities that will motivate others to follow him or her. So being a leader is a choice, but as women, we must choose to be visionary leaders since our children and husbands depend significantly on our leadership abilities, and as women, the power to change the world lies within us.
I have been among circles of female friends who argue that women are not good leaders because they are usually too strict, temperamental, and transfer aggressions from unpleasant situations to their subordinates. But, I want to disagree with this statement because an emotionally unintelligent individual regardless of his/her sex, will always display signs of emotional immaturity.
So, I need to stress at this point that as leaders, who a woman has been naturally equipped to be, there is a basic requirement for emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability of a person to manage his/her emotions and the emotions of others. It is mandatory as a leader to have high intelligence quotient because the power to motivate and mentor others lies in the strength of your emotional intelligence. To build your emotions, therefore, you need to know yourself by identifying your strengths and weaknesses, strive to improve on your weaknesses, be able to delay gratification by exercising self-control, show empathy towards others, and be willing to help others.
Furthermore, you need to manage relationships, build your strength of working in a team, build your integrity and settle disagreements when involved in conflicts. Academic intelligence may be necessary to scale certain hurdles in life and provide solutions to life’s problems, but it is never sufficient for greatness as a leader. However, emotional intelligence is mostly required for achievements in all facets of life.
Finally, I will love to conclude, by saying that I feel very blessed to be a woman, though saddled with so many responsibilities but also endowed with unique skills and abilities to lead wherever I find myself. I know I have been able to charge up great leaders here in this summit today who also feel blessed to be women of purpose and ready to develop themselves to influence people where they live, work and play.
THE WORLD NEEDS US AS WOMEN, SO LET US RISE TO THIS CHALLENGE AND OCCUPY OUR RIGHTFUL POSITIONS IN THE SOCIETY.