International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the impact of women in all facets of life. I always feel great pride when I see women of substance – whether at home, work or in social circles – that are making a positive impact on the world around us.
Having obtained my bachelor’s degree in engineering at a school with a diverse, yet predominantly white population, I got used to being one of the few women of colour in my class, which made me relatively unique in a male-dominated field. However, I rarely saw this as a disadvantage. If anything, I could often offer a unique perspective that majority of the class would overlook or not even consider.
While we still have the ongoing discourse about income disparity between men and women, on a professional level I believe that there is usually mutual respect and professionalism between both genders particularly in technical fields where skill and sheer talent are gender-neutral. In fact, there are so many groups supporting women both within and across organisations that I sometimes wonder how anyone could walk about “unenlightened”. So it was a bit of a surprise to me after attending a technical presentation recently, when one of the other attendees asked if I was someone’s wife. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wives supporting their husbands and vice versa – I hear it makes for lasting marriages – but I wondered why this was his first assumption as to why I was there. After patiently explaining that I had a passion for data-driven decision making and was researching technology I could leverage, we were able to engage in a productive discussion.
In Nigeria, we live in what is for the most part a patriarchal society, so this is by no means an isolated incident. As women, why don’t we leverage one of the best resources we have around us – our men? Educate the men in your lives, whether your brothers, fathers, husbands or sons on the value of the girl child. Show them how they can support you in your endeavours whether in the home by sharing household responsibilities or in the workplace by encouraging your voice to be heard at the table even if they disagree with your point of view.
There are so many organisations that are promoting women this month. Consider supporting any of the initiatives such as YALI’s #Africa4Her which aims to reduce the gender gap within the network or TechWomen’s #IAmEmpowered which strives to project a diverse image of today’s empowered woman. Women In Tech Africa is also hosting a series of activities this week so be sure to check them out. Feel free to let me know about other related activities via the comments section.
As women let us continue to display the talent and drive we possess by adding value during life’s journey and enlightening others we meet along the way.