MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame Initiative, an NGO with female gender bias, last week joined the world in celebrating the International Women’s Day with a road walk tagged ‘Walk Woman, Think Equal’. The exercise was aimed at awakening women to stand up for their rights, think big and be better persons in the society. Mary Nnah writes
In consonance with the global theme, ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovative for Change”, a group of women drawn from various sectors of the economy participated in a walk tagged, “Walk Woman, Think Equal’ to mark the International Women’s Day.
Held in Festac, Lagos, the walk organised by the MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (MMS WoFHoF) Initiative, an NGO with female gender bias, the exercise was to sensitise the public on the role of a women in nation building.
It is worth mentioning that MMS WoFHoF Initiative promotes equality and fairness in career, and work place, political and corporate leadership, capacity building and role modelling through mentoring women and younger generation in their chosen professions while inculcating enviable home and entrepreneurial cultures into them.
“In Africa, Nigeria to be precise, the cultural political background confines women to their homes, especially the kitchen and the other room. This does not allow them to come out to the limelight. As part of the efforts to correct this, MMS WoFHoF Initiative titled today’s walk, ‘Walk Woman, Think Equal’. This is to encourage a woman to believe in herself and believe in her abilities to go beyond the confines of her home. A woman should aim high to make significant achievements by impacting the society positively”, the Executive Secretary, MMS WoFHoF Initiative, Chioma Nwagbo said during the walk.
Speaking on the essence of the walk Nwagbo said: “We are trying to create a picture, which is to encourage women to come out of the confines of their homes and have the sense of belonging that they are not just furniture in their homes, nor confined to the kitchen nor are they domestic staff. We aimed to encourage them to be professionals and that they should aim higher and so they should walk out of those confinements and come to the limelight.”
“The most important aspect is for them to look at themselves at par with their male counterpart and to be sure that you can achieve what a man can achieve and to build that confidence that wherever a man can be, you can as well as a woman. You can be a professional, you can be a highbred businesswoman, and you can be an industrialist and other things having in mind that sex is irrelevant in life achievement”, she noted further.
Social Empowerment Scheme
The organisation believes that it is just not enough to merely tell women to come out and be all what they desire to be. Therefore, to help women achieve their dreams of becoming pacesetters in their various endeavours as well as to help grow businesses and galvanise capacity to reach a greater number of women, artisans and micro business owners in mentorship, MMS WoFHoF Initiative has introduced a social empowerment scheme, called, Vision 5W-250,000, which aims to give access to micro credit facilities and grants to 250, 000 micro business owners, especially women in five years, from, 2019-2024.
Nwagbo stressed that MMS WoFHoF Initiative through this scheme is bent on empowering and training the next generation of women leaders in the maritime, oil and gas, finance, aviation as well as political leadership sectors.
“Vision 5W-250,000 is a project that would be used to empower women. It is not just enough to tell a woman to stand up for her right or stand up for what she believes in but she also needs to be empowered. And this what Vision 5W-250,000 aims to do”, she noted.
The MMS WoFHoF scheme which is segmented into various portfolios includes: MMS WoFHoF Micro Credit Scheme, a daily contribution where a person contributes a certain amount of money for savings, which is subjected to collection by the contributor after a given period. A service charge is deducted at the end of the programme.
Access to Daily Thrift (Esusu) is another scheme where a person do a daily contribution of N500 minimum, which would be saved and at the end of the month one day’s contribution is taken as service charge.
Access to Quick cash is another empowerment plan whereby petty traders are empowered to have access to petty cash of N50,000 for the period of three months. There is also Access to Equipment lease (Hire purchase) and finally is the WoFHoF Cooperative Cluster which entails different categories of contributions.
The initiative, Nwagbo revealed, has started empowering women with quick cash to start-up or boost their businesses and the programme intends to touch the lives of 50,000 women annually to reach 250,000 in five years.
Some of the women who have benefited from the scheme testified on how it has helped improve their businesses.
For Uju Faith Oke, a trader, she has benefited a lot from the scheme, which has helped her business grow in a short period of time. “I collected loan of N50,000 from the organisation, which I invested in my business and today my shop has a new improved look and now when I enter my shop, I become very happy”, she said excitedly.
Another beneficiary, Anthonia William, a second hand cloth dealer, said the loan she collected from MMS WoFHoF is far better than other loans she has ever gotten, adding, “in this case, MMS WoFHoF has made it so easy for us to pay back the loan and also save a token for ourselves so that at the end of the three months, you don’t need to apply for another loan but you get your savings to put back into your business and then move on to the next level of the scheme”.
Charge to Women
Meanwhile, one of the MMS Hall of Fame and President of Women in the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Hajia Bola Muse, who also took part in the walk, commended Nigerian women for their amazing ability to multi-task and put in the best on all sides.
“A woman is at work, yet she is thinking of her kids in the school, thinking of making dinner back home. She cares for the homes and manages the home. She also takes charge at the office or her business. Women are amazing. Women are privileged to partner God in bringing forth several generations. We house the baby and bring forth the baby in due time” she said.
President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA), Nigerian chapter, Bola Muse who was represented by Mrs. Ruth Chukwukezirim, advised women not to believe in the fallacy that certain trade was for men.
“When people say freight forwarding is men’s trade, I say: really? Can you show me where it is written that it is men’s trade? Nobody has been able to show me. This means we can do anything as women and we have top women in the maritime sector. This means women can not only play a role in the shipping sector but also rise to the pinnacle” she added.
Head of Department, Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation at Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area, Mrs. Temitayo Dabiri-Raji commended the women who took part in the Walk. Referring to women as the salt of life, she said; “I strongly believe that if you train a woman, you train a nation. I want to specially commend the federal, state and local governments in Nigeria for their efforts towards ensuring gender equality in governance. At the moment, women are encouraged to partake in decision making in all the three tiers of government. Several state governments and local governments have been keen to train women and empower them”
Condemning the rate of domestic violent issues in the country, Dabiri-Raji urged women undergoing such turmoil to speak out.
“Those who have suffered domestic violence should go to the available portals to lodge their complaints and be assured that the complaints would be attended to. Women should also be very diligent in terms of child upbringing and not just trust family members to do the task” she said.
Charge to Federal Government
As part of the efforts to grow the feminine brand in Nigeria, the Founder of the MMS WoFHoF Initiative, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke urged the Federal Government to reserve certain positions in government agencies for women.
Drawing an analogy with the federal character system in Nigeria, he said; “We have federal character in Nigeria, so we should be able to have gender character that should define inclusiveness of women in all sectors and capture the gender sensitivity of the nation. To help us bridge that gender gap, we should be able to reserve 40 per cent of government recruitments across board. If we do this over a period of time, we would have more women participating in various sectors”.
In sync with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), World Maritime Day’s theme; ‘Empowering Women in the Maritime Community’, Anaroke hinted that MMS WoFHoF Initiative would organise a ceremony to mark its ‘Hall of Fame’s Day’ on Tuesday March 19, at Golden Gate, Ikoyi, Lagos by 4pm. The event is scheduled to recognise and celebrate some ‘Indomitable Maritime Amazons’ who have made modest contributions in the maritime industry.
He therefore called on maritime professionals and noble organisations to deepen their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) impact by partnering the NGO to enable it execute Vision 5W-250,000.