• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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At #TIWLC2024 in Dubai, IBUKUN AWOSIKA inspired participants to lead with courage

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It was the 3rd edition of the International Woman Leadership Conference convened by Ibukun Awosika, and this year’s edition was fire packed. Themed ‘Leading With Courage’, it featured an array of distinguished speakers which included Sam Adeyemi, Portia Derby, Josephine Wapakabulo, Hadiza Bala Usman, Segun Ogunsanya, Risto Siilasmaa, HRH Sanusi Muhammad Sanusi II, Dolika Banda, Rt Hon Nick Hurd, Clare Akamanzi, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Damilola Ogunbiyi, Lena Zamchiya, Topsy Kola-Oyeneyin and Nedjip Tozun. We spoke with some participants from different parts of the world who shared their experiences. Each person’s narrative passionately tells us how they enjoyed and benefited from the entire event.

Hon. Marilyn Okowa-Daramola

Member Representing Ika North-East State Constituency

Delta State House of Assembly

Attending the International Woman Leadership Conference, and the 360 masterclass was such a transformative experience. With the vital lessons learnt, I am better prepared to approach the future with newfound clarity, perspective and resolve.

For me, the conference was a clarion call to embrace the totality of my aspirations. I realised the importance of living a life that fully expresses my dreams and desires, while reaffirming that my individuality must never be lost as I take on different roles as a leader, a wife and a mother.

The conference underscored leadership as a path of service, paved with several courageous decisions. These decisions are guided by my moral compass which should always determine what is non-negotiable.

One of my most profound realisations was the need to further my education in spite of my busy schedule. Realising the invaluable role of continuous education as a leader, I am committed to ensuring that I have current knowledge and information at my fingertips so that I don’t mislead.

The conference highlighted the strengths inherent in my femininity, dissolving any perceived pressure to fit into a traditionally masculine mold as a female leader. I can also better harness my natural environment as my tool to succeed.

The importance of cultivating meaningful connections was also emphasised. Throughout the conference, I had the privilege of forging bonds with a diverse array of women from different generations, creating a shared sisterhood that will surely enrich our collective future endeavours.

I extend my sincere gratitude to the iconic Ibukun Awosika and her team for this enlightening experience.

Bisi Akintayo

CEO GText Suites, subsidiary of GText Holdings

The conference brought in a new level of passion, innovation, and creativity, and fostered community networking, brewing with new and long-lasting relationships and collaboration with other brands. I will share below my take home from the power-filled conference.

Have a Bold Vision of Change: Learn to communicate your vision and create a plan to ensure you execute it. Your intuition as a woman is powerful, learn to use this to achieve your vision.

Conquering my Fear: I understand that courage is doing something in the middle of fear. My fears are rooted in my thinking and once I identify this, it will propel me to take more courageous steps in business. I am more energized to lead with Courage and to act despite my fears.

Knowing Who I Am: The first step to courage is to know who I am. No matter what I become, I will never forget who I am. In the process of discovering myself, I need to know those who will facilitate my success faster. As long as I shoot for the stars, I will land among the stars.

Take Action: Acting despite my fears will help me take more courageous steps in leadership. Getting results is not about attending the best conferences, but what I do with what I have learnt is what will make a difference in my business.

I recommend this conference to every woman ready to lead with courage and birth a bigger vision.

Topsy Kola-Oyeneyin

Partner, Augmentum & Author, UNLEASH

It has been a while since I attended a professional women’s conference, so I was excited to attend #TIWLC2024. I wasn’t let down. With over 600 women ranging in age, profession and culture, the event sparked inspiration in both my personal and professional life.

Intentionality was a key theme evident in every detail of the conference – from location and theme to speakers and programme design. It balanced deep discussions with practical activities and social interactions, allowing delegates to learn, connect and simply have fun.

Being part of the panel discussion on ‘Ageless Courage’ with passionate change-makers Damilola Ogunbiyi and Ned Tozun was a highlight. Skillfully moderated by Kemi Onabanjo-Joseph, the panel highlighted the importance of following your instincts and practically demonstrated that age is no barrier to making a difference – each of us had successfully taken on significant responsibilities at the age of 28!

I left the conference with a wider network and multiple takeaways. Here are my top three:

1. Demystify the notion of risk: Change entails risks, yet maintaining the status quo often involves even greater inherent risks that are frequently overlooked.

2. Embrace generational diversity: Fostering multigenerational collaboration is essential for driving transformative change, and it requires mutual respect and honour.

3. Train and trust your instincts: True courage is about driving change while staying true to your convictions. Three key moments to recognise – when it is it, when it is not it, and when to move on.

Deeply grateful to Ibukun Awosika and the organising team for orchestrating a truly inspiring, thought-provoking, and soul-enriching event. I am already eagerly anticipating the next edition!

Jacqueline Dufie Mpare

Head Agency Banking for Ecobank Group

At the beginning of 2023, I felt an overwhelming sense of urgency to build capacity. I was unsettled with where I found myself in various aspects of my life. The International Women’s Leadership Conference (TIWLC2024) was therefore a must attend for me. I also applied for the 360 Degree Executive Master Class and the pre-conference seminar titled: The Woman, Her Ambition and Relationship.

The well-curated event brought together outstanding female and male speakers leading the charge in their fields of endeavour. The unique mix of attendees from around the world in various stages of their lives and careers set the stage for great conversations and networking opportunities. I personally gained counsel to take major decisions and obtained answers to many questions on my mind.

The speakers shared invaluable insights on ‘Leading with Courage.’ I was particularly intrigued by the ingenuity of all the speakers and their willingness to be vulnerable in sharing real life experiences with delegates. Some of my key take-aways are:

“To thyself be true, embrace your uniqueness, you can only give your best to the stakeholders in your life if you are intentional with developing you and first taking care of you” – Ibukun Awosika

“Courage must be matched with ability, be well prepared for the task ahead and ensure you are always on the right side of the law” – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

“Goals are unattainable when our habits don’t align with our goals” – Sam Adeyemi

“Each woman should commit to lifting another woman to create room for others to grow into leadership. We must not forget to carry the male-child along” – Dolika Banda

TIWLC 2025 is a must attend for every woman aspiring to be a transformational leader.

Oyinda Akinyemi

Executive Director, Stanbic IBTC Capital and Head, ECM – Africa Regions, Standard Bank

TIWLC2024 was a great and empowering conference in every way. I was privileged to attend TIWLC 2023 and I made up my mind that 2024 was certainly going to be a date.

The conference truly exudes all-round excellence that keeps attracting women. I salute Ibukun Awosika for being able to pull together women from literally all walks of life – young and old, with representation from across Africa and well beyond. The excitement and energy in the atmosphere from the opening night up till the very colourful gala night was palpable. Awosika charged us at the cocktail to get knowledge and power (connectivity) and indeed this was the experience throughout.

This year’s theme was ‘Women in Leadership – Leading with Courage’. The quality of the broad lineup of speakers was phenomenal. Clare Akamanzi shared how Rwanda rose from being a war-torn country to becoming one of the most favourable business environments on the African continent, amongst other achievements, on account of courageous leadership. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka reminded us of the need to be authentic, consistent, create networks to broaden our knowledge and that women must always support other women. Awosika led us through her signature reflective exercise which asks pertinent questions around who you are, where you are going and how you plan to get there. Dolika Banda’s “I am phenomenal, I am powerful, I am a trailblazer” is still ringing loudly as well as the need to stand by your values and your brand. Through Josephine Wapakabulo, we saw the need for courage to challenge our thinking and perception and place ourselves in uncomfortable positions, as doing otherwise is mental and intellectual incest! Some men including Sam Adeyemi and HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi also lent their voices to leading with courage.

The conference was truly wholesome – I had wonderful opportunities to connect with many lovely ladies. I leave the conference inspired and energised to make a difference and can only look forward to what TIWLC2025 will bring!

Theodora Amechi

Group Head, Loan Recovery and Reconciliations, Bank of Industry

The #TIWLC2024 was another opportunity to expand my network of women who are making great impact in different spheres of economic and social endeavour. I was fortunate to attend the 2023 event and while listening to women discuss work and life challenges to success, I decided my daughter who had just graduated from the Nigeria Law School at the time needed to hear these discussions to prepare her for corporate life. Imagine my apprehension at the economic downturn after making that promise but like they say, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” So, despite the economic downturn, I am happy I was able to keep my promise to her. It was also a great mother-daughter bonding time by the way. Fortunately for her, the number of young women at the conference this year grew significantly from the year before, so she met other young ladies, made new friends and learnt so much from accomplished women and yes, our ‘he-for-she’ men who come every year to encourage and provide their perspective to the issues. You get to hear first-hand and discuss the issues that are either confronting you or will confront you as a woman in your journey to success. I look forward to #TIWLC annually as that booster to grow my network, learn and share thoughts (while having super fun) with other women from all over the world at different stages of career growth and accomplishment.

Adedoja Allen

CEO of City 105.1fm, Lagos Nigeria

I am the most excited for participating in the just concluded #TIWLC2024 themed ‘Leading with Courage.’ It was so inspiring to watch other phenomenal women leaders from different parts of the world speak about leading with courage. I learnt the importance of courage in my leadership, one which I never paid much attention to. Of the points and lessons that stood out for me are:

1. Courage to forgive as a leader

2. Courage to dream big and add ability.

3. Courage to stand for and do the right things all the time against all odds and resistance.

“I soaked up to always have the law on my side in all that I do” an interesting point that hit me. The importance of self-audit every 3 months stood out for me, and this helps me to appraise myself against the KPIs and targets set for me. While leading with courage and determination, I must keep copies of all documents I sign or approve.

Seeing and listening to fellow women, some of whom are trail blazers doing great things and at the top in their industries is highly motivating and invigorating. All the plenary sessions were thought provoking as I sat glued to my seat listening to the experiences shared, and some common mistakes leaders make to enlighten and warn us not to fall into traps set for us. As a leader, I am now more determined to succeed.

Emphasis was placed on every single day you live, it leaves you an opportunity to write your own history- as a woman and leader. Therefore, live for a good name. Find friends (tribe) who think like you and who would stand up to your defense and support. I found a great tribe of great women for myself. I am confident that this will not leave me the same. I cannot wait for 2025! Thank you Ibukun Awoshika.

Kiki Okewale

Co-founder Women Radio 91.7

In the bustling heart of Dubai, nestled amidst the towering skyscrapers and buzzing streets, I found myself immersed in an unforgettable experience: The International Woman Leadership Conference (TIWLC).

The highlight of my time at the conference was undoubtedly when I took the stage as one of the speakers at the open forum. It was a moment that opened instant doors for me. Standing before a varied audience, I bared my soul.

One of the lessons that resonated with me the most profound was the realisation that age is truly no barrier to chasing one’s dreams. Whether young or old, what matters most is the courage to lead, the consistency to persevere, and the resilience to weather any storm. #TIWLC2024 also underscored the importance of trusting one’s instincts and cultivating a mindset of growth, showing me that success often hinges on surrounding oneself with the right people.

I discovered a sisterhood that transcended borders and cultures, bound together by shared experiences and shared aspirations.

As I bid farewell to the conference halls of Dubai, I carried with me more than just memories, I carried a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of the power of connection. TIWLC had provided me with a platform to share my truth and to find solidarity within a global community of empowered women.

As I leave back for Nigeria, I do so with a heart full of gratitude for the connections forged. My experience at TIWLC had taught me that every challenge overcome is not just a personal victory, but also a guiding light for others, reminding me of the incredible power of storytelling to inspire, unite, and uplift the human spirit.

Habiba Ali

CEO/Founder, Sosai Renewable Energies Company

I heard about the TIWLC just a week before it started and I was so sure it would be difficult to get in, but even though we both sit on the board of Nigerian Advisory Board for Impact Investing (Ibukun Awosika and I), I had never heard of this conference and only heard last minute, so I reached out to Etemore and the rest they say is history as I was lucky to be registered, get my visa and still be in time for the second pre-conference, centered around woman and her relationship. This pre-conference set the tone of what I was going to experience over the next 3 days which were phenomenal.

I naturally do not like big events, it’s pretty overwhelming and I am not able to navigate and make the best of it, but with this conference, from pre-conference where I was celebrated as it was my birthday that day, to the deep and unsettling conversations but worthy to be discussed, I knew I was in for an experience that would yield value for me.

The first conference day gave me the bigger picture of being the woman who not only thrived but pulled other women along to thrive. As much as I had done this in my work, hearing it was an affirmation I was on the right track.

The second conference day, I got serious nuggets that shaped a new line of leadership reasoning and strategy planning especially from HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the other phenomenal speakers.

In all the conference delivered, I asked myself on my trip back, was this worth it for you? And I could only focus on the relationships I built, the networks created and the plan to develop the ‘Interact’ platform to bridge intergenerational conversations. It was fulfilling.

Morenike Basharu

MD/Chief Creative Director, Dewia Options Limited

The International Woman Leadership Conference was an experience like no other. I have seen a lot in my life, yet nothing comes close to the catharsis of listening to the challenges, victories and vulnerabilities shared by a diverse range of extremely inspirational and powerful women. It was an incomparable honour to speak to such a distinguished set of over 600 women about the true definition of the quintessential woman and also share my story. This is an experience I truly will never forget.

I listened, I learnt and I shared

Over the course of the 3-day conference, I have seen what it truly means to be a trailblazer, unbound by the shackles society so viciously attempts to place on women. I have heard of journeys where women demolish the glass ceiling and become powerhouses in a plethora of industries.

I have always believed that every woman has their own superpower. Yet, this conference has taught me that our common power lies in our hearts and how deeply we can love and support each other. How wholeheartedly we can build and lift each other up. This conference has shown me what I want my own daughters to become – the epitome of undisputed power, women who dare to dream.

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude towards Ibukun Awosika for having the courage to consistently spearhead this impactful conference. The groundbreaking effect of this event would undoubtedly inspire several women to make a substantial impact, wherever we may find ourselves.

Kemi Onabanjo-Joseph

Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company

The plenary 3 session ‘Ageless Courage: Cultivating the boldness to drive change’ featured 3 young trailblazers across the private sector and development sector – Eyitope Kola-Oyeneyin, Damilola Ogunbiyi, and Nedjip Tozun. The session was expertly moderated by Kemi Onabanjo-Joseph and was a superb complement to the multigenerational session held the previous day. The session aimed to inspire and empower the audience, especially the younger delegates, by sharing insights and experiences from the distinguished panelists.

The discussion anchored on understanding the mindset required to develop and sustain the courage needed to make a difference in the world. Eyitope, known for her pioneering work in transforming the banking industry through the cashless policy in Nigeria, emphasised the importance of honour and wisdom in leading upwards. Damilola, a true pathfinder who has made impact at the state, national and global level in the energy sector highlighted the significance of a ‘can do it’ mentality and collaboration in driving societal change. She urged the younger generation to leverage their unique perspectives and talents to make a positive impact on their communities and the world at large.

Nedjip, a visionary leader in the renewable energy sector, shared his journey of innovation and social entrepreneurship, emphasising how courage, conviction, compassion and curiosity are critical in overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities. He also highlighted the unusual message about taking care of ourselves and ensuring we don’t burnout while aspiring to change the world.

Kemi closed out the panel by reminding delegates that courage is not a solo journey, and emphasised the importance of building our tribes from which we can borrow courage on the tough days.

In conclusion, the inspiring stories, examples, and principles shared by the panelists on the ‘Ageless Courage’ session left delegates inspired to take bold action both in their personal and professional lives.

Jamila Wada-Dasuki

 

Founder, Bioblend Nigeria

TIWLC was a meeting of fresh ideas and robust conversations relevant to both local and global contexts. The quality and diversity of the speakers and thoughtfully curated panel topics is a testament to the powerhouse that is Ibukun Awosika. What are the odds of capturing a Rwandan policy maker, the former South African Deputy President, a Finnish change agent, and a partner at Mckinsey with an intimidating CV, all in one room. Expectedly, the first thing I took away is that one has to be intentional about building and harnessing social capital for the benefit of oneself and humanity.

I had many “Aha” moments. Some of the speakers were so relatable, they proffered solutions applicable to my specific situation. Other times, it felt like an accelerated mentorship programme with lots of nuggets to use in the future. The conviction to leave “safety” to build impact task force is the brand of Nick Hurd’s courageous leadership, then there is Hadiza Usman and Damilola Ogunbiyi who owned their respective spaces and amplified their impact because they had a deep knowledge of self. Know Thyself! The particularly thought-provoking session by Risto Silosama forces us to not only evolve but anticipate marketplace dynamics capable of changing the trajectory of our lives. Being a local champion is a dangerous yet inevitable outcome when one is complacent. In view of the speed with which innovations diffuse, the need for cross-generational learning is clear.

Above everything else, it is the openness of the speakers, their honesty and willingness to share what puts TIWLC in a league of its own. A reminder of sorts that it is ordinary everyday people, driven by a higher purpose that achieve extraordinary things. I left the conference with a sense of urgency, ready to activate the facets of my life where I’m not optimising my capacity. I’m empowered to step out of my shadows to own a trail with courage and while at it, pay it forward as a tribute to these amazons who illuminated my path at TIWLCC 2024, After all, what do I have to lose by trying?

Hon. Justice Mabel T. Segun-Bello

Judge, Federal High Court of Nigeria

My experience at TIWLC2024 is that the true worth of living consists of its cumulative experiences. From the conference, I now understand better why women must be deliberate and determined in creating and curating a better life, and being intentional about bridging and leveraging generational diversity.

My Observations:

– There are key priority responses now, on issues of inclusivity of women in leadership

– Understanding that women must be timeless in relevance and value

My key takeaways:

– Each one lifts one

– To thyself be true

– You are the critical success factor

– Legacy Consciousness

– Mentoring Up

-Bridging and leveraging Generational gaps and divides intentionally

-Prioritise your mental health.

And above all, my cardinal learning from the conference is that – “In the race for excellence there is no finish line.”

REBECCA KAMWINE

Founder Zen living (Uganda)

The International Woman Leadership Conference is a gift to the woman that desires to walk in her purpose and fulfill all that God has deposited in her. Still in awe of how Ibukun Awosika and her amazing team always choose the right speakers who selflessly pour into us every year.

Claire Kamanzi beautifully told the Rwandan story of a country that bounced back from such tragedy and has emerged as the country that we admire today because of great leadership, a change of mindset, the courage to forgive and the courage to do the right thing.

I learnt the importance of knowing your story, owning it and telling it.

I learnt that some victories are not worth having and it’s okay.

I was reminded to lift as I climb (to support and affirm other women).

I learnt to draw a circle around me and have values that govern me.

I learnt not to be afraid to walk in the furnace (Beautiful things come out of the furnace).

As a creative entrepreneur, I am constantly creating. I was comforted to know that I am not crazy for the desire to create the environment I have never seen.

I learnt the importance of knowing who you are rather than knowing what you are.

I enjoyed the session on how to conquer Fear. I am not sure if it’s just me but as an entrepreneur, as a woman, I have constantly felt a deep sense of fear of the unknown. It was liberating to know I wasn’t alone and Sam Adeyemi beautifully shared on “how to conquer fear.”

I learnt to take whatever is given to me and make something out of it. (Make lemonade).

Dolika Banda reminded us of the fact that once we stick to our values, it’s not just for us but others too and that even though leadership is a lonely place, it’s an anointed place.

The room was filled with a beautiful energy of great women who are aware that it lies in our hands to change the world.

We learnt the importance of learning from our history. What a time to be an African woman.

I am forever grateful to Ibukun Awosika for this empowering space.

God bless the amazing team.

GRACE OFURE IBHAKHOMU

CEO Lifecard International Investment

Women leaders gathered in Dubai recently to attend the esteemed Ibukun Awosika’s International Woman Leadership Conference, which offered deep insights and learning experiences for all. Here are the major learning points I gained from the conference:

Ibukun Awosika and other keynote speakers emphasised the importance of courageous leadership in navigating challenges and driving change. Leaders were encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, take calculated risks, and lead with conviction. In his session, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, CON (one-time CBN governor) emphasised the need for more female inclusion within the corporate sector. He underscored the urgent need for gender equality and inclusion in all spheres of life. Other speakers highlighted the importance of breaking down barriers and creating inclusive environments where women can thrive and excel.

It is very important for us women to keep evolving and keep up with the fast-paced trends, especially technology. Education emerged as a powerful tool for empowerment. Discussions centred on the role of further business education in equipping women with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to pursue their aspirations and overcome societal constraints. The conference hosted women leaders across various business sectors and it once again opened me up to the essence of women connecting for future collaboration. We learnt the significance of building supportive networks and relationships. The conference provided a platform for women to connect with like-minded individuals, seek guidance from mentors, and forge meaningful professional relationships.

We were hosted to a gala night where every attendee dressed as an African bride, it was colourful and I appreciated the beauty in our diversity even more. Diversity and inclusion were celebrated as essential pillars of effective leadership. We gained insights into the value of diverse perspectives and the importance of creating inclusive spaces where every voice is heard and respected.

The conference also highlighted the power of strategic partnerships in driving meaningful impact. Attendees were encouraged to collaborate across sectors and leverage collective resources to address pressing social/economic challenges.

I was privileged to speak at the conference on the topic “Facing the unknown” I and other amazing speakers shared personal stories of resilience, highlighting the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Attendees were inspired to embrace setbacks as opportunities for growth and to cultivate resilience in their own leadership journeys.

In addition to providing attendees with a platform for empowerment, inspiration, and collective action, The International Woman Leadership Conference surrounded attendees with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to lead with courage and effect positive change in the world they live in.

Ify Ukachukwu

Managing Director of Rexton Industries Ltd.

As a manufacturer and a woman in leadership, I’ve had the privilege of attending various conferences, but the International Woman Leadership Conference, anchored by Ibukun Awosika is different. Although I had learnt about it last year, it wasn’t until this year that I finally made the decision to attend. I’m incredibly grateful that I did. I had the privilege of participating in both the pre-conference and main conference, where I had the honour of listening to remarkable women exemplify both strength and vulnerability. From the moment I entered the conference hall, I was enveloped in a palpable sense of empowerment and solidarity. The event brought together women from diverse backgrounds, each with their own stories, challenges, and triumphs to share. It was a testament to the determination and resilience of women worldwide, and it left an indelible mark on me. Throughout the conference, I was inspired by the thought-provoking panel discussions and keynote speeches. But what truly resonated with me were the lessons I gleaned: •Context is key for effective leadership. •Authenticity fosters genuine connections. •Seeking professional help when overwhelmed is crucial. •Building a supportive community aids success. •Developing future leaders is essential. •Maintaining balance is vital for productivity. These insights, coupled with the celebration of women’s strength and resilience, left me feeling inspired and empowered. The conference reinforced the importance of diversity and inclusivity in leadership and underscored the boundless potential of women to effect change in the world. As I reflect on this experience, I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of such a transformative event. I look forward to applying the lessons learned and continuing to champion meaningful change in both my personal and professional life. Here’s to more empowering experiences in the future!

Kim Angoy

Owner/CEO/Designer of Suga Apple Swim, Barbados

Gratitude overflows from my heart when I reminisce about the remarkable time spent at The International Woman Leadership Conference in Dubai, led by the remarkable Ibukun Awosika with the support of UN Women MCO Caribbean. From the valuable insights shared by the speakers to the connections formed with like-minded individuals, this experience was truly humbling and invigorating. The bonds forged and wisdom gained from this event is invaluable, and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity. As Dolika Banda wisely reminded us, “When you are nurtured, seize the opportunity and use it”. This is something that I surely intend to do!

Jumoke Fajemirokun

Partner, ENR Advisory

Attending the International Woman Leadership Conference in Dubai is always a time for me to unplug, learn, unlearn, relearn and reflect. It was my third time attending the conference and it always gets better. The lineup of speakers was truly world class. All of them bringing their unique perspectives to the conference theme: ‘Leading with Courage.” I drew inspiration from their stories and could appreciate better the interplay between courage, fear and being authentic. On authenticity, HRH Lamido Sanusi, who was a keynote speaker, shared that the first step to courage is defining ‘who’ you are. This is what you can control and should guide your actions. ‘What’ you are is a combination of your abilities and some measure of luck. You cannot always control what you are, and it is transient. Leading purely from the prism of what you are can lead to an undesired end. The session by Sam Adeyemi (which felt like a masterclass) was very instructive in helping to deconstruct the different types of fear that women face and how to conquer them. Many times, our fears are rooted in limiting beliefs, so we need to cultivate a habit of identifying our fears and replacing negative and limiting thoughts.

Beyond the learnings, I thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with the other high achieving ladies, all seeking to be better versions of themselves and to impact their world positively. We shared stories, we played, we laughed, we danced, and we shopped together. They say when women come together, magic happens. The whole experience for me was simply magical, refreshing and empowering. I am grateful to the conference convener, Ibukun Awosika for curating this transformational experience.

Tolulope A. Medebem

COO, Lead Consult Aster Integrated Marketing Limited (AsterIML)

President, EXMAN (Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria)

This was my first time at the International Woman Leadership Conference and I am glad that I took out the time and money to invest in my life and myself (impacting my business). Setting out, I told myself to keep an open mind and hopefully look to making changes, if any. There were / are many! I dare say, this experience is one that I would recommend over and over – The theme ‘Women in leadership, leading with courage’ was one that resonated with me and was in effect all through, starting from the cocktail where I meet with courageous sisters from across the world and HRM the 14th Emir of Kano who was so gracious sharing space with everyone. I guess, this should have prepared me for the phenomenon I was about to encounter the next day. Listening to the various keynotes, the panel sessions, my need for an open heart kicked in and I was inspired on all sides.

Reflections by Ibukun Awosika made me open up to myself on something that I always shy away from because I actually wrote it down and it became real. Lessons for me – The importance of ‘Tribes’, any day, anywhere. Sam Adeyemi and The Emir’s sessions were fire – Listening to them and everyone, I understand that being at the conference was not by chance, it was designed for me to take stock, make a decision to trust my intuition and make determined effort to ensure that not only am I a better person, but that I impact as I move along now! “When I am gone, how will I be recorded?” – Muhammed Sanusi 11: Khalifa Sanusi 11, The 14th Emir of Kano. I made some lasting friendships and I look forward to nurturing these as part of my TIWLC2024 legacy.

Noxolo Sishuba

Oomakoti Events and Aviation Services, South Africa

The TIWLC event was nothing short of spectacular, leaving attendees in awe of the unforgettable experience. From the moment I arrived Wednesday for registration, I was greeted with a warm welcome and a well organised check-in process that set the tone for what was to come, I loved the welcoming bag. The venue itself was stunning, beautifully decorated with attention to detail that enhanced the overall ambiance.

The event programme was thoughtfully planned, offering a perfect balance of engaging activities and insightful talks. My highlight is the Rwanda 3 Types of courage and entertaining performances. Attendees were treated to a variety of delicious food (Nigerian) and drinks.

One of the highlights of the event was the keynote speaker whose inspiring words resonated with the audience and left a lasting impact. Networking opportunities were abundant, allowing guests to connect with like-minded individuals and forge new relationships.

Overall, the event was a resounding success, exceeding expectations and leaving a lasting impression on all who attended. It was a truly remarkable experience that will be remembered fondly for years to come.

The speakers from different sectors at the event were truly exceptional, each bringing a unique perspective and expertise that enriched the overall experience for attendees.

In the technology sector, the speakers showcased cutting-edge innovations and shared valuable insights into the future of tech, inspiring the audience with their forward-thinking ideas and visions. Their presentations were not only informative but also thought-provoking, sparking discussions on the latest trends and advancements in the industry.

In the business sector, industry leaders shared their success stories, strategies, and best practices, offering valuable lessons and practical advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and professionals. Their wealth of experience and knowledge provided attendees with valuable insights into navigating the challenges and opportunities in today’s competitive business landscape.

In the creative sector, artists and designers captivated the audience with their creativity and passion, showcasing their work and sharing their artistic process. Their presentations were not only visually captivating but also emotionally engaging, demonstrating the power of creativity in inspiring and connecting people from all walks of life.

Overall, the speakers from different sectors brought diversity, expertise, and inspiration to the event, making it a truly enriching and memorable experience for all who attended.

‘Women Leading with Courage’ is a powerful and inspiring topic that highlights the incredible strength, resilience, and leadership qualities that women around the world possess. This theme celebrates the stories of women who have overcome challenges, broken barriers, and made a significant impact in their respective fields through their courage and determination.

Women leading with courage are trailblazers who challenge the status quo, advocate for change, and empower others to reach their full potential. They demonstrate a unique blend of bravery, compassion, and vision that propels them forward in their personal and professional endeavors.

This topic sheds light on the importance of gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in leadership roles, emphasising the valuable contributions that women make to society, business, politics, and beyond. By showcasing examples of women leading with courage, we can inspire and motivate others to embrace their own strengths, stand up for what they believe in, and lead with authenticity and resilience.

Ultimately, ‘Women Leading with Courage’ is a testament to the indomitable spirit and limitless potential of women everywhere, encouraging us to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary achievements of female leaders who are making a difference in the world.

Violet Lupuwana

South African Entrepreneur

I enjoyed how practical the conference speakers were.

The theme was Women Leading with Courage. It sounded like an easy topic until I listened to the speakers and thought,”Oh my gosh! so leading with courage is not as easy a task as what the topic sounds?”

I love how each speaker told us about their experiences, and the tough and risky decisions they have had to take.

I learnt that it is important for me to know myself. That is the foundational lesson that was the thread of all speakers. Leading with courage entails knowing yourself and your story. It entails being aware of the risk that comes with leading with courage, cover yourself with documentation and surround yourself with a tribe that you can lean in when the tough gets going or when you may need a listening ear. You need advisors like personal board members. I learnt that sometimes, I will be required to choose battles to fight, but I sometimes retreat for a while, and let certain battles go, however if your reputation is dragged, let the battle dust settle and then tell your own story. Retreating does not mean you stay silent forever.

Leading with courage means sometimes stepping away from powerful people or sometimes positions of power, or those that may seem to be attractive to one’s ego, but are rightly aligned to your values.

Never let my values be compromised. Part of knowing myself means I have to be clear on what values I uphold. I need to be clear on what the end looks like for me. I need to know what it is I want and what I need. I have to define what enough means to me lest greed will overpower me. I need to be my own champion and cheerleader. I have the power to give myself what I need. I am resourceful and I am enough.

Courage means doing it afraid anyway. I should be responsible for my personal development and part of that means listening to those who irritate me or don’t see life the way I do. I must be open to learn from others.

There is value in intergenerational cross mentorship. Every generation has value to offer the other. No generation can regard the other as insignificant. Be open to learn from others and hear them out.

I was then given the challenge to find a young girl or girls that I can share my knowledge with and raise other courageous young ladies.

The challenge remains to duplicate ourselves in others young girls.

I am a courageous leader. One needs wisdom in order to lead with courage.

I learnt that I need to put God first, myself, my family, and then my career.

Craslyn Benjamin

Group CEO, Benlar Foods, Barbados

Being at a conference filled with over 500 powerful women championing a vision for leading with courage is a complete game changer for me. I could feel the energy and passion from everyone, and to be there in person elevated my need for purpose fulfillment and knowing the importance of my voice in this world. It was an empowering experience that left me feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on any challenge that comes my way.

One of the most impactful aspects of the conference was the diverse range of speakers who shared their stories of courage and resilience. From entrepreneurs to executives, each speaker had a unique journey to share, filled with triumphs and setbacks that ultimately led them to success. Their stories reminded me that courage comes in many forms and that it’s okay to embrace vulnerability and setbacks as a strength rather than a weakness.

The agenda for the three days was strategically crafted as I was not only inspired but had the opportunity to meet with the speakers in a one-on-one conversation to establish relationships and engage on a deeper level. I really appreciate how raw the speakers were in sharing practical tools and strategies for overcoming obstacles and achieving personal and professional growth. Whether it was learning how to negotiate confidently, mastering the art of doing the right thing, or building a supportive network of allies, there was something for every woman to take away and apply to her own life.

But perhaps the most valuable aspect of the conference was the sense of community and solidarity that was fostered among attendees. Connecting with other like-minded women who shared similar goals and aspirations was both empowering and reassuring. It reminded me that I’m not alone on this journey and that together, we can lift each other up and create positive change by leading with courage.

Overall, The International Woman Leadership Conference exceeded my expectations in every way possible, and I am grateful to have been selected by the UN Women Multi Country Office, Caribbean to represent Jamaica. This opportunity came at a time when I most needed it as I am at a critical stage of restructuring the business for expansion and needed real-life inspiration and tactical tools to scale and persevere. The support received from the UN Women Caribbean Team has helped me to prepare not just physically and financially but mentally, and so I was able to plan ahead and take advantage of the opportunities presented at the conference. The presence of the UN Women Caribbean Team on the ground strengthens the vision of the conference.

I am thankful to have been able to represent my country and my business and can’t wait to experience this again in 2025.

Nicole Rowe

Director, HoneyChild Bath & Body Care Ltd
Barbados, West Indies

Emerging from the TIWCL conference, I find myself both satiated and driven. My appetite for growth and impact only intensifying. Ibunkun Awosika’s words resonated deeply with me throughout the two-day event, particularly her insight that “Every woman has a superpower, but it’s how we use that power that matters.” This, along with the mantra “To thyself be true,” continues to echo in my mind. The commands “Don’t create a gap, fill it” serve as a powerful call to shift mindset and cultivate habits that lead to daily improvement, enabling us to become our best selves in every facet of life.

Awosika’s probing questions on self-knowledge were especially impactful, prompting me, at 41 years old, to delve into the depths of my being for answers. It struck me that discussing oneself, though fundamental despite its innate nature, can be incredibly challenging.

The conference covered an array of leadership facets, emphasizing the importance of confronting fears, empowerment, and striving for personal excellence. It underscored the pillars of knowledge, power, and fun, urging us to leverage these attributes through strategic thinking, creativity, and discipline. Additionally, it highlighted the imperative of adapting to future changes for continued relevance and sustainability.

Networking and fostering meaningful connections were key focal points, pushing us beyond our comfort zones to engage with new faces. This immersive approach was pivotal in enriching the conference experience. The discussions and forums, facilitated by both male and female speakers and moderators, were incredibly relevant and contributed to making the event truly awe-spiring.

A heartfelt thank you to UN Women for choosing me to participate in this extraordinary experience. I am deeply grateful and committed to paying this opportunity forward to others to the best of my ability.