Can someone help us out with this? Does anyone have a question?… These are open calls and opportunities for a potential leader which many often fail to maximise. Leadership is work, dedication, passion, and a true commitment to making a positive impact; it’s not a piece of meat for the faint-hearted. Could this be the reason why leadership is often attributed to the male gender? I bet not; with women rising to the top of their career such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director of the World Trade Organisation(WTO), Ibukun Awosika as the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria, Folorunsho Alakija- a business tycoon and the richest black woman in the world and many more creating ground-breaking impacts before and during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
THE THEME FOR 2021 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
It’s March 8th again and here comes the global celebration of women, their qualities, strengths, and impact. Nonetheless, don’t let the party end here, women are to be celebrated always From Tajikistan to Nigeria and all around the world. Moving on to the theme of the International Women’s Day – “Women in leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID 19 World” which screams leadership. Leadership is a skill and valuable virtue many covet; however, it does not just drop on one’s lap. Becoming an influential leader is a result of our daily choices. It often does not come on a platter of gold but as a result of diligence and perseverance.
Putting away the external factors and stereotypes around leadership, I think it is good to look inward at developing ingredients that make up a good leader and go for it. Nigeria operates on the patriarchal system for instance and no one will readily come to your door knocking and offering leadership opportunities if you haven’t rightly positioned yourself for it. By the way, this is not another article to prove that women are better women as compared to men; the goal here is to get your mindset off the victim’s chair to the action ground. Women are not just meant to be cheerleaders, we can also get on the field and score a goal.
The existence of women in various leadership positions show the possibility of women taking leading roles over and over. There are currently 13 countries being led by women and so many others occupying various seats of power in politics, economics, science and technology, and many other sectors. An example of an outstanding leader is the former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the first democratically-elected head of state in Africa. She was elected in 2006, re-elected in 2011, and led the country through recovery and reconciliation after a decade-long civil war and the Ebola outbreak. She received a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in peace-building and struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights.
When it comes to COVID 19, women are taking giant steps and playing vital roles in managing the situation despite its negative impact on females generally. A study carried out by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), revealed that countries led by women had “systematically and significantly better” outcomes related to Covid-19, which were as a result of their proactive and coordinated policy responses. Germany, New Zealand, Denmark, Taiwan, and Finland experienced relatively early success in their COVID-19 responses.
Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand has been widely commended for one of the most successful coronavirus responses globally. She was elected in 2017 at age 37- the world’s youngest female head of state and has made a remarkable impact, for instance, she selected the most diverse cabinet in the country’s history. It is worthy to note that she did this having given birth to her first daughter in less than a year after being elected president, she has even given major speeches while carrying her daughter.
Asides from political leadership, women have also played vital roles in the development of the Coronavirus vaccine. Professor Sarah Gilbert at the University of Oxford developed a coronavirus vaccine and her triplets participated in the clinical trials to prove the safety of the vaccine. This is a good point to bring to your notice that the Head of Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer who led the creation and testing of a viable and first successful coronavirus vaccine in less than a year is a woman. Kathrin Jansen led a team of 650 experts and risked using unproven mRNA technology to achieve this.
In order to achieve an equal future in a COVID-19 world, we need to challenge every situation or factor creating inequality. In Nigeria, women’s rights advocates- Damilola Odufuwa and Odunayo Eweniyi have used online tools to organize social change such as the free Chibok girls’ campaign and the formation of the Feminist Coalition that launched the #EndSARS movement. Some of our women here are doing so by lending their voices to challenge cultures and traditions that that set them back hundreds of years- Women deserve better, therefore, choose to challenge the norm, choose to challenge the status quo, choose to make positive change, do something to make this world a better place for all.