Nigeria has not encouraged the ascendency of women

Mrs. Tosin Ajose, Lead Advisor, Deal Hq Partners

What would you describe as the greatest passion that has brought you this far in your career?
The desire to break the bias. To rise above societal perception and defined roles for women.

Women are known for seeking ways to educate, empower and contribute to the society; can you say that the womenfolk are performing up to expectation in Nigeria?
Absolutely, women are outdoing themselves. From being home keepers, to being leaders in the corporate world, going toe-to-toe with their male counterpart, the immense contribution of women through the years have been undeniable, regardless of the challenges they are faced with. They have also been instrumental to empowering fellow women and the girl child. Notable efforts include the Wellbeing Foundation of Toyin Saraki, The African Women Power Network by Mary Olushoga, Give Girls A Chance founded by Uloma Ogba and Hauwa Balami, Funmi Roberts Breakfast Session with young lawyers, the WWR Conference curated by LearnHub Institute under the leadership of Gbeminiyi Laolu-Adewale and myself, amongst others.

Can you assess the inclusions of women in different leadership positions in both public and private sector, would you say the women are being marginalized by their male counterparts?
Of course. Take for instance, a 2022 Deloitte Global report on gender diversity on corporate boards around the world, revealed that women hold just 19.7% of board seats and that only 6.7% of board chairs are women, and even fewer CEOs – 5% are women. In Nigeria, a PWC 2020 report shows that Female board members made up 19% of the total board composition across the various sectors listed on the Stock Exchange while Female management team members made up 23% of the total board member composition across the various sectors listed on the Stock Exchange. In the political scene, we see a similar trend. Women made up 4.47% of the National Assembly of the 2019-2023 administration. The FG also refused to implement the 35% National Gender Policy and the National Assembly refused to pass the five women constitutional amendment bill. Despite this, women have not failed to contest for political offices, thus demonstrating their willingness to serve the nation.

How well can you describe the implementation of the affirmative in the country and what other limitations can you ascribe to the seemingly slow progress in the ascendancy of a woman as number one citizen in the country?
Nigeria has not encouraged the ascendancy of women. A clear indicator of this is Nigeria ranking 123/146 in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2022. This comes as no surprise considering the figures on female representation in the National Assembly. Lack of access to basic education, healthcare and financial services are some of the key drivers of Nigeria’s gender inequality. Other challenges impeding women are Gender-based violence, economic inequality, discriminatory employment practices, political exclusion, education disparity.

There has been an increase in the rate of rape and sexual abuse on the girl child, do you think social media has been a negative influence on the society especially on the female gender?

I do not believe social media is to blame for the actions of abusive individuals. If anything, social media has given more media coverage to atrocities such as rape. Because of social media, people now have the courage to speak up, and a lot more people are now listening and willing to help.

As a career woman, how are you able to manage your home and office as well as other responsibilities and still be able to maintain a successful career?
I will not say it has been smooth sailing but knowing that I have the love and support of my husband, children, family, mentors, friends, colleagues make it better. I have people who are willing to help when I ask, and I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it.

What message do you have for women especially those on this year International Women’s Day celebration?
To not let anyone, impose their perception of who and what a woman should be on you. Dream your own dreams and strive to achieve them. You are strong, courageous, and intelligent. There’s nothing unattainable for you. Find your own tribe and let them be a source of strength when you need it. Ensure to be a source of strength for others as well.