Many times, my thoughts stray, and I begin to hear the discouraging words of other men who say to me. “Elisha look around you, do you see any other men proactively pursuing women’s cause?” And the very thought of this could be deterring but even more fulfilling; knowing that I am filling a gap. Maybe If I didn’t do this, no other man would.
The African Women in Leadership Organisation is my legacy, for the women. It started so many years ago when I was going about my business of media but spotted a rare need for women to be instrumental to each other’s success, as a means to attain leadership.
I looked around me at board meetings and they were only a handful of women. More glaring to me, was the fact that the women who made it through the door were only committed to keeping those behind the door there. I think for once it didn’t occur to them that success was a function of building networks and support systems. A habit for the men.
Another thing was development. I sought to build capacity for women. An attitude, somewhat create a character or begin a movement. I said men grab leadership by the horn, they spot opportunities, they are not seeking empowerment. How can women covet this
I said despite that the women have leadership qualities how can they own it and essentially build awareness of their leadership capacity. These and many more was my concerns, a need that AWLO would come to fill.
10 years down the line the African Women in Leadership Organisation in summation is a support system- women building networks. It is an experiential leadership development; embedded in our capacity building programs and daring to take the lead as a woman in your chapter. it is a movement to position women for global relevance – creating a platform for dialogue with stakeholders to initiate decision making, and taking actions towards global development. And recently it is a bridge to sustainable leadership; bridging the gap to the next generation, and leadership training for women to become dependable leaders.
Moving forward, I am committed to take action to sustain a legacy. First thing I feel accomplished setting up and pushing women to break frontiers in leadership. I am happy that I can spot women driving African Women in Leadership Organisation every day. The Chapters, workplace, committees, projects, all perfectly (wo)manned by women. 2019 will now see a woman – Dr. Violet Arene, as AWLO President.
It’s been 10 years of me commanding the vision, and now it is the beginning of what would be another decade of working side-by-side with women to attain their full potential. Most importantly, it is a call to more men to step foot in my shoes.
Recently I authored The African Woman of Worth:100 Amazons and it has given me an opportunity to interact with world Leaders; both male and female. One thing is constant; everybody shares this passion knowingly or unknowingly. From those who flip through the compendium in search of their amazon, to those who are looking forward to a seeing their daughters make the 100 someday. It has dawned on me that the win of women is a collective victory.
Come 2019 I will be leading the world to this victory. I will be devoting more time to result oriented ways to empower women. Our theme for the year in AWLO being ‘Empowered for Sustainability’. It is the political season and I have begun the #womendecide awareness walk and information session to get more women involved in political leadership. I hope to replicate these in all the geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
This year, I want to get more people attuned to the movement of women’s leadership. Especially the men. I will be at the forefront, have more effective conversations, and devise means to promote this agenda.