• Monday, April 15, 2024
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Inemesit Uwah, deliberate on impacting lives and inspiring greatness

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Inemesit Uwah is a visionary leader at the forefront of empowering women in Akwa Ibom and beyond, transcending stereotypes and out-dated norms. With a rich tapestry of experiences and expertise, she embodies the essence of a modern businesswoman and community leader.

In the realm of entrepreneurship, Uwah’s journey is marked by the founding of Blugrinfabrics, a thriving venture that goes beyond mere commerce. Through this platform, she empowers women to realize their dreams, fostering economic independence and creative expression.

She is the wife of the secretary to the state government of Akwa-Ibom. As the Secretary General of the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum and leader of Uyo Female Stakeholders ‘Iban Uyo’, she advocates tirelessly for women’s rights and development, ensuring their voices are heard and their aspirations supported.

Her academic credentials, including a PhD in Management and dual Master’s degrees in Business Administration, underscore her commitment to lifelong learning and inform her approach to sustainable development and economic empowerment.

Certified by the John Maxwell Team as a coach, speaker and trainer, and affiliated with esteemed organisations like Toastmasters International and the Nigerian Institute of Management, she leverages her expertise to guide and inspire others.

What is your take on women empowerment?

As a visionary leader passionate about empowering women in Akwa Ibom and beyond, I believe in a multifaceted approach that tackles various aspects of their development. Here are some key ways I strive to make a difference:

Fostering Growth through Coaching and Mentorship:

Leveraging my experience as a certified coach and trainer, I provide individualised guidance and support to women seeking to:

Develop their skills and knowledge: This could involve workshops, training sessions, or informal mentoring opportunities.

Navigate challenges: Offering support and strategies to overcome obstacles they face in their personal and professional lives.

Achieve their goals: Empowering them to set ambitious goals and develop the confidence and resilience to achieve them.

Seeing women gain the confidence and skills to reach their full potential is a deeply rewarding experience.

Igniting the Entrepreneurial Spark:

Championing Women’s Voices:

My leadership roles in the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum and Uyo Female Stakeholders ‘Iban Uyo’ allow me to amplify the voices of women and advocate for their rights and aspirations. We work towards:

Policy advocacy: Pushing for policies that promote gender equality and address barriers faced by women.

Raising awareness: Educating the public about women’s rights issues and mobilising support for change.

Creating opportunities: Connecting women with resources, networks, and opportunities for advancement.

Ensuring that women’s voices are heard and their needs are addressed is crucial for achieving lasting progress.

Through BluGrinFabrics, I’ve established more than just a fabric store; it’s a platform for women to become economically empowered through entrepreneurship. We offer custom fabric designs, allowing women to express their unique creativity and build their brands. There is the training and support, where we are equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to run successful businesses. Then we have market access, where we are providing opportunities to showcase their products and connect with customers. Witnessing women transform from passionate individuals into thriving entrepreneurs who support their families and communities is incredibly fulfilling.

Why is women empowerment important?

As someone who has dedicated my life to empowering women in Akwa Ibom and beyond, I can confidently say that it’s not just important, it’s essential. I’ve seen first-hand the transformative power of empowering women. I’ve witnessed shy women blossom into confident entrepreneurs, mothers overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges to provide for their families, and young girls dream bigger and reach for the stars. These experiences fuel my passion and remind me of the immense impact we can have by investing in women.

Empowering women isn’t just about individual journeys; it’s about building a brighter future for all. When women are empowered, they become powerful agents of change. They contribute more to the economy, invest in their families and communities, and promote peace and stability. This creates a ripple effect, not only impacting their own lives but also shaping a more just and equitable world for generations to come.

On a personal level, empowering women resonates deeply with me because it’s about creating opportunities for others to experience the same fulfillment and agency that I’ve strived for in my own life. I believe that every woman deserves the chance to reach her full potential and contribute her unique talents to the world.

It’s not just about statistics and reports; it’s about the countless women I’ve met, their stories, their struggles, and their triumphs. Each individual journey reinforces my conviction that empowering women is not just a cause; it’s a necessity for a brighter future for all.

Championing Women’s Voices:

My leadership roles in the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum and Uyo Female Stakeholders “Iban Uyo” allows me to amplify the voices of women and advocate for their rights and aspirations. We work towards:

Policy advocacy: Pushing for policies that promote gender equality and address barriers faced by women.
Raising awareness: Educating the public about women’s rights issues and mobilizing support for change.

Creating opportunities: Connecting women with resources, networks, and opportunities for advancement.

Ensuring that women’s voices are heard and their needs are addressed is crucial for achieving lasting progress.

Fostering Growth through Coaching and Mentorship:

Leveraging my experience as a certified coach and trainer, I provide individualised guidance and support to women seeking to:

Develop their skills and knowledge: This could involve workshops, training sessions, or informal mentoring opportunities.
Navigate challenges: Offering support and strategies to overcome obstacles they face in their personal and professional lives.

Achieve their goals: Empowering them to set ambitious goals and develop the confidence and resilience to achieve them.

Seeing women gain the confidence and skills to reach their full potential is a deeply rewarding experience.

Sharing Knowledge and Inspiring Action:

I actively engage in various platforms to share knowledge, raise awareness, and inspire others to join the movement for women’s empowerment. This includes:

Speaking engagements: Sharing my experiences and insights at conferences,workshops, and community events.
Writing articles and blog posts: Contributing to online platforms to reach a wider audience and spark conversations.

Participating in online discussions: Engaging with others on social media and online forums to raise awareness and build a network of support.

By sharing my knowledge and experiences, I hope to inspire others to take action and contribute to positive change.

Embracing Continuous Learning and Growth:

My commitment to women’s empowerment is a lifelong journey. I continuously strive to:

Stay informed about emerging issues and best practices: Attending workshops,conferences, and networking with other advocates.
Refine my approach and strategies: Adapting my methods based on new learnings and the evolving needs of the community.

Collaborate with others: Partnering with organisations and individuals working towards similar goals to maximise impact.

This dedication to continuous learning ensures that my efforts remain relevant and impactful in the ever-evolving landscape of women’s empowerment.

Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to a future where women in Akwa Ibom and beyond have the equal opportunity to thrive, lead, and shape their destinies. Through this multifaceted approach, I believe we can collectively create a more just and equitable society for all.

How are you actively involved in mentorship, and how important is it to have the right mentor/s?

I see mentorship as a catalyst for growth. Mentorship plays a crucial role in my approach to empowering women. I actively participate in mentorship in several ways:

Individualised Coaching:

As a certified John Maxwell coach, I coach women seeking guidance and support in various aspects of their lives, including:

Career development: Setting goals, navigating challenges, and developing necessary skills.
Personal growth: Building confidence, overcoming obstacles, and achieving personal aspirations.

Business development: Establishing and growing their businesses, overcoming entrepreneurial hurdles.

Providing a safe space for women to discuss their challenges, receive personalized feedback, and develop strategies for success.

Group Workshops and Trainings:

I speak at workshops and training sessions on various topics relevant to women’s empowerment, such as:

Entrepreneurship skills: Business planning, marketing, financial management, and leadership.
Personal development: Building confidence, communication skills, and emotional intelligence.

Advocacy and social change: Strategies for raising awareness, campaigning for change, and building coalitions.

These workshops provide opportunities for women to learn from each other, share experiences, and build supportive networks.

Informal Mentorship Opportunities:

Beyond formal programmes, I actively seek opportunities to mentor women informally through:

Networking events: Engaging with women in various settings and offering guidance and support.
Volunteering: Sharing my expertise and experience with women’s organisations and initiatives.

Building genuine connections: Engaging in conversations, offering advice, and providing encouragement whenever possible.

Importance of the Right Mentor:

Having the right mentor is crucial for maximising the benefits of mentorship. A good mentor should possess the following qualities:

Expertise and experience: Possessing relevant knowledge and experience in the areas where the mentee seeks guidance.

Active listening and communication skills:Effectively listening to the mentee’s needs and concerns and providing clear and constructive feedback.

Empathy and encouragement: Creating a supportive and encouraging environment where the mentee feels comfortable sharing their challenges and aspirations.

Commitment and accountability: Holding themselves and the mentee accountable for achieving their goals.

Finding the right mentor can be a transformative experience, providing invaluable support, guidance, and encouragement on the journey towards success.

I believe mentorship is a powerful tool for empowering women. Through various formal and informal approaches, I strive to provide guidance, support, and encouragement to women on their unique journeys of growth and achievement.

Why is women empowerment important?

As someone who has dedicated my life to empowering women in Akwa Ibom and beyond, I can confidently say that it’s not just important, it’s essential. I’ve seen first-hand the transformative power of empowering women. I’ve witnessed shy women blossom into confident entrepreneurs, mothers overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges to provide for their families, and young girls dream bigger and reach for the stars. These experiences fuel my passion and remind me of the immense impact we can have by investing in women.

Empowering women isn’t just about individual journeys; it’s about building a brighter future for all. When women are empowered, they become powerful agents of change. They contribute more to the economy, invest in their families and communities, and promote peace and stability. This creates a ripple effect, not only impacting their own lives but also shaping a more just and equitable world for generations to come.

On a personal level, empowering women resonates deeply with me because it’s about creating opportunities for others to experience the same fulfillment and agency that I’ve strived for in my own life. I believe that every woman deserves the chance to reach her full potential and contribute her unique talents to the world.

It’s not just about statistics and reports; it’s about the countless women I’ve met, their stories, their struggles, and their triumphs. Each individual journey reinforces my conviction that empowering women is not just a cause; it’s a necessity for a brighter future for all.

Tell us more about BLUGRINFABRICS

BluGrin isn’t just a fabric store; it’s the tangible manifestation of a dream I’ve nurtured for over a decade. It’s the vibrant thread I use to weave together women’s empowerment, creativity, and the rich tapestry of African culture.

My journey began with a burning desire to introduce the elegance of Uyghur styles to my community. Armed with a suitcase full of Turkish corporate wear, I embarked on this mission, brimming with excitement. But reality, as it often does, had other plans. The market craved something different, something I hadn’t anticipated.

Disappointment threatened to unravel my dream, but then, amidst the unsold suits, I saw a spark – the humble Ankara fabric. Witnessing women transform it into stunning, empowering attire was a revelation. It was a powerful reminder that true beauty lies in embracing what resonates with your heart and community, not in clinging to preconceived notions.

BluGrin became more than just a fabric store; it became a platform for women’s aspirations. We offer custom fabric design, allowing you to breathe life into your unique vision. Whether it’s a cherished family motif or a bold, digital print, we have the expertise and technology to translate your dreams into stunning reality.

But empowerment goes beyond fabric. We offer training and support to women who dream of building their own fashion empires. We believe entrepreneurship is a powerful tool, and we’re committed to equipping women with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.

Our Uyo showroom is more than just a retail space; it’s a vibrant hub. It’s a place where women connect, share ideas, and inspire each other. Our friendly team, many of them local women who have honed their skills at BluGrin, are here to guide you, offer design advice, and support you on your creative journey.

My story isn’t just about me; it’s about the countless women I’ve met along the way. Each satisfied customer, each dream realized, each woman empowered to become a successful entrepreneur, it is a testament to the transformative power of this collective journey.

BluGrin is a testament to the fact that even the most well-laid plans can take unexpected turns, leading you to discover a purpose far greater than you ever imagined. It’s a continuous journey of learning, adapting, and weaving a brighter future, one vibrant thread at a time.

In what ways are you advocating for women’s rights and development?

My passion for empowering women in Akwa Ibom and beyond stems from a deep-seated belief in their potential and the transformative power they hold within their communities. It’s not just about individual successes; it’s about creating a ripple effect that uplifts entire families and societies.

One of the ways I strive to make a difference is through BluGrinFabrics. This isn’t just a store; it’s a platform I built to provide women with the tools and opportunities they need to become economically empowered. We offer training and support to help them launch their own fashion businesses, giving them the skills and confidence to take control of their financial futures. We also showcase their products and connect them with customers, allowing them to turn their creative visions into thriving enterprises. Witnessing these women blossom into successful entrepreneurs fills me with immense pride and reinforces my commitment to creating a space where they can flourish.

Beyond economic empowerment, I actively advocate for women’s rights and leadership through my involvement in various organisations. As a leader in the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum and Uyo Female Stakeholders “Iban Uyo”, I have a platform to amplify the voices of women and ensure their needs and aspirations are heard. We work together to push for policy changes that promote gender equality, address the barriers women face, and create a more just and equitable society. It’s crucial to have strong female representation in leadership positions, and I’m committed to playing my part in advocating for their rightful place at the decision-making table.

Mentorship and capacity building are also essential aspects of my approach. I offer individualised coaching and training to women seeking to develop their skills and navigate challenges in their personal and professional lives. Whether it’s helping them refine their business ideas, overcome self-doubt, or build confidence in their abilities, I’m here to provide guidance and support on their unique journeys. Seeing them grow, gain confidence, and achieve their goals is incredibly rewarding.

Sharing knowledge and raising awareness is another powerful tool for creating positive change. I actively participate in workshops, conferences, and online discussions to share my experiences and insights on women’s empowerment. My goal is to educate others about the issues women face, inspire action, and build a network of support. By working together, we can create a more informed and engaged community that champions the rights and potential of all women.

Finally, I believe in the importance of continuous learning and growth. I’m constantly seeking out new knowledge and best practices in the field of women’s empowerment. This involves attending workshops, networking with other advocates, and staying updated on current research and initiatives. By staying committed to learning and evolving my approach, I ensure that my efforts remain relevant and impactful in the ever-changing landscape of women’s empowerment.

This journey of advocating for women is not a solitary one. It’s a collective effort that requires collaboration, dedication, and a unwavering belief in the power of women to shape a brighter future. I am grateful for the opportunity to play my part in this movement, and I remain committed to working alongside other passionate individuals and organisations to create a world where every woman has the chance to reach her full potential and thrive.

What season in your life do you remember and are grateful for and what has been the result so far?

Two pivotal seasons stand out as significant stepping stones on my entrepreneurial journey. These experiences, shaped who I am today and continue to fuel my passion for growth.

My life unfolded in seasons, each one shaping me into the person I am today. The first season began with my marriage, a union fuelled by both love and ambition. I dreamt of not only being a supportive wife but also reaching the pinnacle of my career. However, as a young woman with only an NCE teacher’s qualification, my options felt limited. Yet, I refused to let limitations define me. Driven by an insatiable desire for growth, I embarked on a quest for further education, each step fuelled by a friend’s unwavering support.

This journey wasn’t without its challenges. Misinformation and unforeseen hurdles caused moments of significant disappointment. However, these setbacks, instead of breaking me, served as stepping stones. They ignited a fire within me, pushing me to persevere and seek new possibilities. This unwavering determination led me down a path I never anticipated, one that culminated in the most unexpected yet exhilarating moment – my upcoming PhD convocation.

This season, filled with both triumphs and tribulations, taught me invaluable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and the unwavering pursuit of one’s dreams. It instilled in me a profound appreciation for the power of friendship and the transformative potential of embracing the unexpected. As I stand on the precipice of this momentous occasion, I am filled with immense gratitude for the journey that brought me here. It is a testament to the human spirit’s ability to overcome obstacles and achieve the seemingly impossible.

The second season that shaped my life was the unexpected turn my business took. Initially, I invested heavily in purchasing suits, believing they would resonate with my target market. However, I soon realized that I wasn’t comfortable wearing them myself, which hindered my ability to effectively market them. Additionally, the Turkish style didn’t resonate well with my intended audience, further impacting my sales potential.

Recognising this misstep, I decided to pivot towards selling ankara fabric, a product I was personally familiar with and comfortable wearing. This shift not only aligned with my personal style but also resonated better with my target market. While facing initial financial losses from the previous investment, I viewed it as a valuable learning experience and redirected my resources towards a more strategic approach.

Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for these two defining seasons. They taught me invaluable lessons about resilience, adaptability, and the importance of pursuing one’s goals with unwavering determination. From facing initial setbacks to embracing unexpected opportunities, these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today.

I am still looking ahead, envisioning the future growth of my business and the positive impact it can have on others. My journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and the unexpected detours that can lead to fulfilling outcomes.

What specific challenges do women face in achieving economic independence and expressing their creativity?

As someone deeply invested in the empowerment of women in Akwa Ibom, I’ve witnessed firsthand the unique challenges they face in achieving economic independence and expressing their creativity. These hurdles go beyond statistics and reports; they represent the everyday struggles of countless women I’ve connected with, their stories etched in my memory.

Economic Independence:

Limited access to capital: In Akwa Ibom, the traditional financial system can be particularly challenging for women entrepreneurs. Navigating complex procedures and securing loans often proves difficult, hindering their ability to invest in their businesses.
The “Aba Run” burden: Many women in Akwa Ibom travel long distances to source materials,often referred to as the “Aba Run.” This not only consumes valuable time and resources but also exposes them to safety risks, impacting their productivity and well-being.

Limited market access: While Akwa Ibom boasts vibrant markets, women entrepreneurs may struggle to break into established networks or lack the knowledge and resources to effectively market their products and services.

Expressing Creativity:

Cultural expectations: Deeply ingrained cultural norms can sometimes discourage women from pursuing creative careers,particularly those deemed unconventional. This creates a subtle yet persistent pressure to conform to traditional gender roles.
Balancing responsibilities: Balancing household duties, childcare, and creative pursuits can be a constant struggle for women in Akwa Ibom. The lack of adequate support systems often forces them to make difficult choices,limiting their time and energy dedicated to creative expression.

Lack of visibility: Showcasing their work and gaining recognition can be challenging for women artists and creatives in Akwa Ibom. Limited access to platforms and exhibition opportunities restricts their ability to connect with wider audiences and build successful creative careers.

These are just some of the challenges I’ve observed, and it’s important to remember that each woman’s experience is unique. However, understanding these common hurdles is crucial to developing effective solutions and fostering an environment where all women in Akwa Ibom can thrive.

Through initiatives like BluGrinFabrics, I strive to address these challenges head-on. We provide training, support, and resources to empower women entrepreneurs, offer alternative sourcing solutions to alleviate the burden of the “Aba Run,” and connect them with potential customers. Additionally, we actively showcase their work, creating platforms for their creative expression and fostering a more inclusive artistic community.

The journey towards empowering women in Akwa Ibom is ongoing, and I remain committed to working alongside other passionate individuals and organizations to dismantle these barriers. By addressing these specific challenges and fostering a supportive ecosystem, we can create a future where every woman in Akwa Ibom has the opportunity to pursue their economic aspirations and unleash their creative potential.

How do you define women’s economic independence, and what are the key components that contribute to it?

I define women’s economic independence as the ability to control their financial resources, make their own economic decisions, and live a life free from financial dependence. It’s not just about having money; it’s about having the power and agency to shape their own economic destinies.

Several key components contribute to achieving this independence:

Access to Resources:

Financial resources: This includes access to capital, loans, grants, and financial literacy training to manage their finances effectively.
Education and skills: Having the necessary skills and education allows women to access higher-paying jobs, start businesses, and compete in the workforce on an equal footing.

Market access: This involves having platforms and networks to sell their products or services, reach customers, and build sustainable businesses.

Freedom from Dependence:

Reduced reliance on others: This means having the financial security to meet their own needs and those of their dependents without relying solely on others for support.

Decision-making power: Having control over their income and the ability to make informed financial decisions without undue pressure or influence.

Personal Empowerment:

Confidence and self-belief: Believing in their ability to succeed financially and having the confidence to pursue their economic goals.

Entrepreneurial spirit: Having the motivation and skills to take initiative, identify opportunities, and build their own businesses.

In the context of Akwa Ibom, these components take on specific nuances:

Addressing the “Aba Run” burden: Finding alternative sourcing solutions or facilitating bulk buying opportunities can free up valuable time and resources for women entrepreneurs.
Promoting financial literacy: Providing workshops and training programs can equip women with the knowledge and skills to manage their finances effectively.

Creating supportive networks: Building a community of women entrepreneurs can offer valuable mentorship, collaboration opportunities, and emotional support.

By focusing on these key components and addressing the specific challenges faced by women in Akwa Ibom, we can work towards creating a future where economic independence is not a privilege, but a reality for all women.

This journey is deeply personal to me, and I am committed to using my platform and resources to empower women in Akwa Ibom to achieve their full economic potential. Together, we can break down barriers, create opportunities, and build a more equitable and prosperous future for all.

In what ways does fostering women’s economic independence and creative expressions contribute to overall gender equality and empowerment?

When women are economically independent and able to freely express their creativity, it creates a ripple effect that significantly contributes to overall gender equality and empowerment in several ways:

Increased Agency and Decision-Making Power:

Economic independence grants women greater control over their lives and resources. They can make informed decisions about their careers,finances, and families, without being dependent on others.

Creative expression allows women to articulate their voices, perspectives, and experiences through various mediums. This fosters a sense of agency and empowerment as they share their unique stories and contribute to cultural dialogue.

Challenging Gender Stereotypes:

Economic success by women disrupts traditional gender roles that often confine them to domestic spheres. It demonstrates their capability and potential in various fields,challenging societal biases and paving the way for future generations.

Creative expression allows women to transcend stereotypical portrayals and showcase their diverse talents and perspectives.This challenges narrow societal expectations and promotes a more inclusive and diverse cultural landscape.

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty:

Economic independence empowers women to improve their own living standards and invest in their families’ education, healthcare, and well-being. This can break the cycle of poverty that disproportionately affects women and girls.
Creative expression can foster entrepreneurial opportunities for women,allowing them to generate income and contribute to their communities’ economic development.This not only empowers individual women but also uplifts entire families and societies.

Inspiring and Uplifting Others:

Seeing successful women in various fields can inspire and motivate other women to pursue their own goals, fostering a sense of collective empowerment and breaking down barriers.

Creative expression allows women to share their experiences and challenges with others,fostering empathy, understanding, and solidarity amongst women, creating a stronger support network.

In the context of Akwa Ibom:

Supporting women entrepreneurs and artisans can create a positive ripple effect throughout the community, inspiring future generations and promoting a more equitable and inclusive society.

Investing in girls’ education and creative pursuits can lay the foundation for a future where gender equality is not just an aspiration,but a lived reality.

By fostering women’s economic independence and creative expression, we are not just empowering individuals; we are building a more just, equitable, and prosperous future for all.

What strategies or approaches do you use to engage and involve women from diverse backgrounds, including marginalised communities, in your programmes?

At BluGrinFabrics and through my broader advocacy efforts, I employ several strategies to engage and involve women from diverse backgrounds, including marginalised communities:

Building Trust and Relationships:

Community outreach: I actively participate in community events, women’s forums, and gatherings in marginalised communities. This allows me to build trust, connect with women on a personal level, and understand their specific needs and aspirations.

Culturally sensitive approach: I strive to be culturally sensitive in my interactions, respecting diverse belief systems, traditions, and communication styles. This fosters a sense of inclusivity and encourages open communication.

Addressing Accessibility and Barriers:

Location and outreach: We strategically locate our showroom in a central and accessible location within Uyo, making it easier for women from diverse backgrounds to visit and participate in our programs.

Flexible programme schedule: We offer diverse program timings and options to cater to the varying schedules and commitments of women, particularly those juggling household responsibilities or working irregular hours.

Language inclusion: We strive to provide information and resources in multiple languages spoken in the community, removing language barriers and ensuring everyone feels welcome and included.

Tailoring Programmes and Support:

Needs assessment: We conduct regular needs assessments within marginalized communities to understand their specific challenges and tailor our programs and support services accordingly.
Mentorship and skills development: We offer targeted mentorship programs connecting women with successful entrepreneurs and creatives from similar backgrounds, providing invaluable guidance and role models.

Microfinance and financial literacy: We partner with organisations offering microfinance opportunities and financial literacy training,equipping women with the necessary resources and knowledge to manage their finances effectively.

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion:

Inclusive marketing and communication: We actively showcase the stories and achievements of women from diverse backgrounds in our marketing materials and social media platforms,celebrating their unique contributions and fostering a sense of belonging.

Creating safe spaces: We strive to create safe and inclusive spaces where women from marginalised communities feel comfortable expressing themselves, sharing their experiences, and participating actively.

Collaboration and partnerships: We collaborate with other organisations and NGOs working with marginalised communities,leveraging their expertise and networks to reach a wider audience and offer more comprehensive support.

By employing these strategies, I aim to create an inclusive environment where women from all walks of life feel welcome, valued, and empowered to participate in our programmes and pursue their entrepreneurial and creative aspirations. It’s an ongoing process of learning, adapting, and refining our approach to ensure that no woman is left behind in the journey towards economic independence and creative expression.

How do you collaborate with other stakeholders and organisations to create a supportive ecosystem for women’s economic independence and creative expressions?

I understand the crucial role collaboration plays in creating a supportive ecosystem for their economic independence and creative expression.

Here are a few ways I collaborate with other stakeholders and organisations in our state:

Partnering with Local NGOs and Community Organisations:

Uyo Women’s Initiative (UWI): Collaborating with UWI allows us to reach women in underserved communities within Uyo, offering joint training programs on financial literacy, business development, and marketing specifically tailored to their needs.

Joint Initiatives with Government Agencies:

Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development: We collaborate with the Ministry on initiatives like the “Women in Skills Development Programme,” providing women with vocational training in various fields, such as tailoring, catering, and cosmetology, equipping them with marketable skills for self-employment.

These are just a few examples of how I collaborate with various stakeholders in Akwa Ibom. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive ecosystem where women from diverse backgrounds have the resources, opportunities, and encouragement they need to thrive economically and express their creativity freely. This collaborative approach is essential for breaking down barriers, fostering gender equality, and empowering women to shape a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

What policy changes or social shifts do you believe are necessary to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women’s economic independence and creative expressions?

From my experience working in Akwa Ibom, I believe several key policy changes and social shifts are necessary to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women’s economic independence and creative expression:

Policy Changes:

Access to capital: Streamlining access to microloans, grants, and financial resources specifically targeted towards women entrepreneurs. This could involve engaging dedicated government programs strategically, partnering with financial institutions to offer women-friendly loan options, and promoting alternative financing models like crowdfunding.

Childcare support: Implementing affordable and accessible childcare facilities can significantly ease the burden on working mothers, allowing them to dedicate more time and energy to their careers or creative pursuits. This could involve government subsidies for childcare centers, tax breaks for employers offering childcare options, and promoting flexible work arrangements.

Skills development and training: Providing targeted skills development programs tailored to the needs of women entrepreneurs and creatives in Akwa Ibom. This could involve training in areas like financial literacy, business management, marketing, digital skills, and specific creative disciplines relevant to the local context.

Social Shifts:

Challenging gender stereotypes: in support of the ministry of justice and women affairs, there is need for promoting public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives that challenge traditional gender roles and societal expectations that often limit women’s economic and creative aspirations. This can involve engaging men and boys in the conversation, promoting positive role models of successful women entrepreneurs and creatives, and fostering a more inclusive cultural narrative that celebrates women’s diverse contributions.
Shifting societal norms: Encouraging a cultural shift that values and supports women’s economic independence and creative expression. This involves promoting the idea that women’s success benefits not only themselves but also their families and communities, and dismantling the stigma often associated with women pursuing non-traditional careers or entrepreneurial endeavors.

Building supportive networks: Fostering stronger networks and support systems for women entrepreneurs and creatives. This could involve creating mentorship programs, peer support groups, and online communities where women can share experiences, access resources, and learn from each other.

Celebrating women’s achievements: Actively celebrating the successes and achievements of women entrepreneurs and creatives in Akwa Ibom. This can be done through media coverage, awards ceremonies, and community events, showcasing their contributions and inspiring other women to pursue their own goals.

By implementing these policy changes and fostering these social shifts, we can create a more equitable and supportive environment where women in Akwa Ibom feel empowered to pursue their economic aspirations, express their creativity freely, and reach their full potential. It’s a collective effort that requires commitment from individuals, organisations, and the government to work together towards a brighter future where gender equality is not just an ideal, but a lived reality.

I remain dedicated to advocating for these changes and working alongside others to create a more inclusive and thriving ecosystem where every woman has the opportunity to succeed, contribute, and shape their own destiny.

What advice or message would you give to women who aspire to achieve economic independence and express their creativity but face various challenges?

To the women of Akwa Ibom who dream of economic independence and creative expression, I see your strength, your passion, and your potential. The journey may not be easy, but know that you are not alone. Here are some words of encouragement from my heart:

Believe in yourself: You are capable of achieving great things. Don’t let self-doubt or societal expectations hold you back. Embrace your unique talents and believe in your ability to turn your dreams into reality.

Embrace challenges as opportunities: Obstacles are inevitable, but they also present opportunities for growth and learning. Use them to refine your skills, build resilience, and discover new paths forward.

Seek knowledge and resources: Equip yourself with the knowledge and resources you need to succeed. Take advantage of training programs, workshops, and mentorship opportunities. Connect with other women entrepreneurs and creatives, and build a supportive network.

Don’t be afraid to take risks: Stepping outside your comfort zone can be daunting, but it’s often where the magic happens. Embrace calculated risks, learn from failures, and keep moving forward with determination.

Find your voice and express yourself: Don’t be afraid to share your creative vision with the world. Whether it’s through your business, your art, or your writing, let your unique voice be heard.

Celebrate your achievements: Take pride in your progress, no matter how small. Celebrate your milestones and acknowledge your hard work. Your journey is an inspiration to others.

Remember, you are not alone: There is a community of women who support you and believe in you. Seek out mentors, connect with like-minded individuals, and build a network of support.

Together, we can create change: By supporting each other and advocating for gender equality, we can break down barriers and create a more inclusive environment where all women can thrive.

I am here for you, alongside countless others who believe in your potential. Never give up on your dreams, and keep inspiring the world with your creativity and your pursuit of economic independence.

What is the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum about and what are your roles as Secretary General?

The Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum is a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering, advocating for, and promoting the development of women within the Uyo Senatorial District of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. The forum works towards achieving this mission through various initiatives, including:

Organising workshops and training programmes on topics like financial literacy, business development, leadership skills, and gender equality.
Providing advocacy and support to women facing challenges such as domestic violence, discrimination, and lack of access to education and healthcare.

Promoting the economic empowerment of women by facilitating access to financial resources, markets, and business opportunities.

Encouraging women’s participation in politics and decision-making processes at all levels.

Creating a platform for women to connect, share experiences, and build solidarity.

As the Secretary-General of the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum, my primary responsibilities include:

Providing administrative support to the forum’s executive committee and members.
Coordinating the planning and implementation of the forum’s programs and activities.
Maintaining communication with members and stakeholders.

Documenting the forum’s activities and achievements.

Liaising with government agencies, NGOs, and other organisations to advance the forum’s goals.

Representing the forum at meetings, conferences, and other events.

In essence, I play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation of the forum and facilitating its efforts to empower and uplift women within the Uyo Senatorial District. It’s a role I take immense pride in, as it allows me to directly contribute to creating a more just and equitable society where women have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Do you feel pressured being the wife of a politician because of his political office?

It’s understandable that being the wife of a politician can come with certain expectations and pressures. However, I’m fortunate to say that I don’t feel personally pressured by my husband’s political office. We have a strong and supportive relationship built on mutual respect and understanding. He encourages me to pursue my own passions and goals, and I am equally supportive of his endeavors.

One of the key strategies I’ve found helpful is open and honest communication with my husband. We discuss our respective needs, expectations, and aspirations openly, ensuring we navigate these unique circumstances as a team while respecting each other’s individuality.

While every role has its demands, I wouldn’t necessarily categorise them as challenges. Rather, I see them as opportunities for growth and personal fulfillment. Balancing my various commitments requires effective time management, prioritisation, and open communication with my husband and loved ones.

My primary focus remains on my own work, career growth, and personal initiatives, such as BluGrinFabrics and my involvement with the Uyo Senatorial District Women Forum. I believe that using my platform to empower other women and advocate for their rights is not an obligation but a lifetime call to give back to the people, my community, and my nation, A choice I make daily is to live life to its fullest, showing up in all dimensions for my purpose.

Ultimately, I am grateful for the opportunities that come with my husband’s role, and I strive to use my position to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

As a coach, speaker and trainer, how are you leveraging your expertise to guide and inspire others?

Through tailored coaching programmes, I address the unique challenges and aspirations of women entrepreneurs and creatives in our state. These programmes delve into areas like financial literacy, business development, marketing strategies, and building creative confidence.

My speaking engagements also play a crucial role in inspiring and empowering women in Akwa Ibom. I actively participate in workshops, conferences, and events within our communities, specifically targeting women’s groups, community organisations, and educational institutions. These talks address topics relevant to women’s empowerment, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and creative expression. I make a conscious effort to showcase the achievements of successful women entrepreneurs and creatives from Akwa Ibom, serving as a source of inspiration for others and demonstrating the potential and possibilities that exist within our local community. Furthermore, I use my platform to advocate for policy changes and social shifts that promote gender equality and create a more supportive environment for women’s economic independence and creative expression in Akwa Ibom.

Finally, I also collaborate with local NGOs, government agencies, and educational institutions to deliver programs, reaching a wider range of women and maximizing the impact of my efforts.

By combining these personalised approaches, I strive to guide and inspire women in Akwa Ibom to overcome barriers, unlock their potential, and achieve their dreams. I believe that empowering women is not only essential for their individual success but also crucial for the overall development and progress of our community.

What is the essence of a modern businesswoman and community leader?

The essence of a modern businesswoman and community leader lies in a unique blend of ambition, compassion, and a commitment to positive change.

Ambition:

Vision and drive: Modern business women possess a clear vision for their endeavors, fueled by a strong drive to succeed and make a mark in their chosen fields. They are not afraid to set ambitious goals and take calculated risks to achieve them.
Innovation and adaptability: They thrive in a rapidly changing world, embracing innovation and readily adapting to new technologies, market trends, and customer needs. They are lifelong learners, constantly seeking to expand their knowledge and skillset.

Resilience and determination: The journey of a businesswoman is rarely smooth. Modern businesswomen possess the resilience to overcome obstacles, navigate challenges, and bounce back from setbacks with unwavering determination.

Compassion:

Empathy and emotional intelligence: Effective leadership requires understanding the needs and perspectives of others. Modern businesswomen possess strong emotional intelligence, allowing them to connect with employees, customers, and community members on a deeper level.
Social responsibility and ethical conduct:They operate with integrity and hold themselves accountable for the social and environmental impact of their businesses. They actively contribute to the betterment of their communities through various initiatives and responsible business practices.

Empowering and uplifting others: Modern businesswomen understand the power of collaboration and mentorship. They actively support and empower others, particularly women and underrepresented groups, to reach their full potential.

Commitment to positive change:

Advocacy and breaking barriers: They recognize the need for systemic change and actively advocate for policies and initiatives that promote gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in the business world and society at large.
Sustainability and environmental consciousness: Modern businesswomen are mindful of the environmental impact of their businesses and strive to implement sustainable practices throughout their operations. They understand the importance of preserving the environment for future generations.

Inspiring and motivating others: They serve as role models for aspiring entrepreneurs and community leaders, demonstrating the power of dedication, hard work, and a commitment to making a positive difference in the world.

In essence, a modern businesswoman and community leader is a multifaceted individual who balances ambition and compassion to achieve success while contributing to the greater good. They are trailblazers, innovators, and changemakers who leave a lasting positive impact on their businesses, communities, and the world around them.

In what ways are you upholding sustainable development?

Here’s how I strive to uphold sustainable development in my various roles:

As a business owner:

Ethical sourcing and production: I prioritise sourcing materials and products from local suppliers who adhere to ethical labor practices and minimize environmental impact.
Sustainable product design: I design products with longevity and reusability in mind, reducing waste and encouraging mindful consumption.

Eco-friendly packaging: I utilise recyclable or biodegradable packaging materials whenever possible, minimizing our environmental footprint.

Waste reduction and responsible disposal: We implement practices to minimise waste generation within our operations and ensure proper disposal of any unavoidable waste through responsible channels.

As a community leader:

Advocacy and awareness raising: I actively raise awareness about the importance of sustainable practices within the community, organising workshops, talks, and campaigns to educate and inspire others.

Supporting sustainable initiatives: I lend my voice and support to local organisations and initiatives working towards environmental conservation, waste management, and promoting renewable energy sources.

Promoting sustainable living: I encourage sustainable practices in my everyday life and share personal experiences to inspire others to adopt eco-conscious choices in their own households and communities.

As a role model:

Leading by example: I strive to embody sustainable practices in all aspects of my life, demonstrating the positive impact these choices can have on the environment and lives.

Inspiring others: I use my platform to inspire and motivate others to embrace sustainability, showcasing how small changes in individual behaviour can collectively create a significant positive impact.

I believe that sustainability is not just a responsibility, but an opportunity. By integrating these practices into my business operations, community involvement, and personal life, I aim to contribute to a more sustainable future for Akwa Ibom and beyond.

It’s important to note that this is an ongoing journey, and I am constantly seeking new ways to learn, improve, and further my commitment to sustainable development. Together, we can create a more equitable and environmentally conscious future for generations to come.

Concluding Words

In conclusion, my journey as Inemesit Uwah, a businesswoman, community leader, and advocate for women’s empowerment, has been one of continuous learning, growth, and a relentless pursuit of positive change. I believe that empowering women, fostering sustainable development, and advocating for a more equitable society are all interconnected and crucial for building a brighter future for Akwa Ibom and beyond.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to contribute to these efforts and serve as a voice for those who may not be heard. While challenges remain, I am filled with optimism and hope for the potential we hold collectively to create a world where every individual has the opportunity to thrive and contribute their unique talents to a more just and sustainable future.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts and perspectives. Together, let us continue to work towards a brighter tomorrow for ourselves, our communities, and generations to come.