The red single strap bag was quite a catch. Inside it, the conference materials for the 17th edition of the National Women’s Conference were neatly arranged. Organised by the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), the event, held recently in Lagos, had become a pilgrimage of sorts for women in various trades or professions. Eko Convention Centre was shut down for three days as women were everywhere, from the parking lots to the poolside. Even the male restrooms were not spared. Their intentions were actually noble- to deliberate on the theme, “She Creates, She Transforms’’.
The opening ceremony featured plenary sessions preceded by the keynote address which was delivered by the wife of the Vice president, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo. In it, she reiterated the woman’s place in the home and society at large.
‘’Women have a say; a voice to be heard. There’s a potential that this will be a turning point that will lead to a transformation,’’ she said, to the excitement of the women, mostly clad in shimmering attires, torn between listening and engaging in side talks.
The atmosphere was created for networking. Tables and chairs were arranged in communal style. If you sit with the people of like minds, you may exchange business cards. Nonetheless, the voice of the Chairman, COWLSO and wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode cut through the pockets of conversations as she delivered her welcome address.
Some of the topics at the plenary session which she highlighted were “Building a Better World’’, “Women in Agriculture’’, “Parades of Creatives’’, “Women Empowerment’’ and “Financing Options for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.’’
Perhaps, the most valuable of the sessions was the session on health talks chaired by a public health physician with 15 years’ experience, Dr. Tony Akinyemi. His delivery was fluid, fast and forthright.
“Long sitting, for let’s say six hours is as dangerous as smoking,’’ he declared to the surprise of many in the audience. He encouraged his listeners to rise up, and recite the nursery rhyme, “My Head, My Shoulder’’ while touching these body parts, which was a simple trick to demonstrate what should be a daily routine in exercise. He emphasized the need for women to care for their health which is a vital human resource. Also, he identified diet and lifestyle as key factors in individual’s life expectancy.
“Avoid destructive habits and high-risk behavior such as smoking tobacco, self-medication, excessive alcohol intake and late night eating. Eat nutritiously; taste is not primary, nutritional value is,’’ he said.
Dr. Akinyemi’s advice may sound familiar but sharpness in his tone communicated a high degree of seriousness, regardless of the hint of humour in every sentence.
“Your kitchen can be your health centre or a poisoning centre, depending on how you manage it. To eat intelligently is an art. To extend life, we must incorporate rest into our lives; six hours of daily sleep; two or three weeks of extended rest. Maintain an ideal body weight. Exercise 30 minutes daily,’’ he enjoined the women.
He also warned them to avoid isolation for good mental well-being. “We are relational beings. Relate with people to have peace. It can reduce tension and hypertension. Learn conflict avoidance skills,’’ he advised.
A few hours after the health talks, it was Gala night. Every health rule was shattered. Dinner was served late and many women indulged lavishly. Sugar Band was on stage accompanying the women with some cool vibes which was later interrupted by DJ Tipsy who seemed to enjoy testing the women’s emotions with his skills on the wheels. That performance of his made the entry of Simi, at first, an unwanted interruption to the street songs renting the air.
Then came Teckno, looking very distinguished in his well-tailored suit. The older women in the audience gawked at his hairstyle and those freaky demonstrations, centre-stage. His performance was energetic, abridged and he left the stage as most of the women dug into their food, possibly as consolation.
Tiwa Savage was on top of her game, showing that experience counts. Her performance was better coordinated than the previous one and she was well-clad too. The roaming camera picked out her six-inches red heels as she made her way into the audience, who demanded for more songs. She couldn’t escape the selfies on her way out of the hall.
One of the favourite dances for the night was the closing ceremony dance by members of COWLSO led by the chair, Mrs. Ambode. She rocked backwards and stepped forward to the sound of “Iskaba” as DJ Tipsy decidedly made the Governor’s wife prove without a word that no other state does it better.
This year’s award by COWLSO went to Engr. Sandra Aguebor also known as “Lady Mechanic’’ for her outstanding career life and a source of inspiration to other women.