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Women Vital to Nigeria’s Socio-economic Development
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Q: Do you think women in Nigeria are given enough opportunities to grow?
Well, if opportunities are looked at in two ways: conducive environment, and freedom to grow, on the first, which is conducive environment, I would say not enough has been done across all sectors to enable women to fully participate. There are still many gender-biased roles not only pushed by men but also women. Secondly, on freedom to grow, I believe women in Nigeria, to a large extent, have less restrictions to speak up or go for what they want. In the end, the desire to grow is a personal decision and the force to drive it can only come from us. Shirley Chisholm, the first African- American Woman to be elected to US congress, said, and I quote: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring your folding chair”. Women need to make the move and not always sit back and wait to be recommended or appointed.
In summary, in Nigeria, we are not yet where we should be in terms of giving women the opportunities to grow but some progress has been made over the past few years. Women can grow more if we are more involved in creating the opportunities and taking the front seat in our empowerment.
Q: How would you describe the role of women in nation development in Nigeria?
I believe in the quote from Hilary Clinton, which says: “When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits”. You see, women have an innate ability to multi-task and give full attention to all tasks to elicit desired result. The more women are included in nation development, the more efficient and effective that process is.
I think that Nigeria will blossom economically and socially if we allow more women to participate. The reforms required need the women’s viewpoint to drive the changes we desperately need. A nation’s development needs the input of both competent men and women. The women should not be left out!
Q: Can you share some of the limiting gender stereotypes you have faced in your private sector career?
The typical limiting gender stereotypes I have faced in my career is that, you are seeing as being emotional. So a man can get upset at work and scold the team and/or protest about unsavory comments/situations, he is seen as a strong and objective leader. When a woman does the same, she is said to be emotional. This tends to keep women from voicing out objective criticisms and/or speaking out when situations demand that they do.
Q: How were you able to overcome such limiting gender stereotypes?
I always tend to mentally step back and ask myself if what I want to voice out makes sense -is it constructive and does it add value? If it does, I do speak out sometimes with the passion it requires. Other times, I am more subtle so as not to step on egos. Women should never make themselves victims, rather find a balance that allows them preserve their mental health and own their voice.
Q: Women all over the world, including Nigeria, face varied challenges such as socio-cultural limitations, workplace inequalities, among others. How has OVH Energy as a private company contributed to reverse the situation?
Yes, OVH Energy is very conscious about the gender balance in the workplace. Even though the percentage is still more skewed to men than women, the company has in place an equal gender employment policy that can see the ratio change as more competent women bring their ‘A’ game. The company‘s promotion at work is performance-based, thereby making sure that women can get to the very top of the organization if they put in their best. Both genders are celebrated and recognised across the usual national events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, paternity and maternity leave, etc. We also have confidential and anonymous platforms to support any gender in reporting harassment or perceived biases of any kind.
Q: What is your take on the rising cases of sexual harassment and other inhuman treatments melted out to women especially in corporate environment? How are such social malaise affecting the Nigerian society?
Speaking from a corporate environment perspective, sexual harassment can only prevail if an organisation is not responsible enough to put in place platforms that would allow both genders to report and also impose strict sanctions for anyone found culpable. I believe it’s a lot easier to manage this within the corporate environment than in the wider society. Sexual harassment is becoming a pandemic in our society today and should be tackled quickly as it’s now escalating to more rape cases. Sexual harassment eats away at the victims’ mental health and will affect the society at large if not curtailed.
Q: What is your advice to young women out there?
My advice to young ladies is for them to develop themselves through acquiring skills, education, etc. Don’t leave your growth in anyone’s hands. Demand more from yourself so you can demand more from the society. Don’t accept to be a victim, don’t dwell on gender biases but focus on your aspirations and dreams. You are in charge!
It Is Value-Adding for Companies to Insert Gender Concerns Into Corporate Strategy
Q: What actions have been taken by OVH Energy as a company to drive gender equity in Nigeria?
OVH Energy operates a no-discrimination policy in matters relating to the employment, training, compensation and career advancement of its employees. These are extended purely based on qualification and merit.
In addition, the company has over the past few years made a conscious effort to close the gender gap between the senior, management and executive management levels.
As part of our 2021 business initiative, we plan to introduce a few gender-based initiatives to empower the OVH Energy woman.
In your personal view, what are the societal challenges Nigerian women are facing and how do you think private organisations can help to solve some of these challenges?
Firstly, we need to look at the various societal challenges such as discriminatory religious or cultural practices, lack of access to quality education, poverty or lack of financial empowerment and motherhood pressures. Then proffer solutions to each of these challenges.
There is need for a lot of support through CSR made to organisations that provide enlightenment to affected communities and promote the eradication of such discriminatory practices.
Subsequently, more should be done to empower women through corporate scholarship schemes like partner with stakeholders to sponsor skill acquisition programmes, provide seed capital for female entrepreneurs and more importantly provide women with financial education. I also think promoting flexible work schemes and crèche support for mothers will be helpful.
Marking the International Women’s Day saw various activities, a public holiday in some countries and ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day that celebrates womanhood. Do you think there is a need to make this day a focal point in the movement of women’s right?
The gift of the woman in my view should be celebrated. Across the world, women carry a huge burden, most times silently of ensuring things work smoothly in their homes, by being physically present when required, providing emotional and financial support at the home front, whilst also juggling their responsibilities at work.
A day such as this set aside to celebrate women should indeed be taken advantage of to say THANK YOU to these multi-tasking superheroes who are seldom acknowledged.
International Women’s Day should also be seized as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of leading women, to highlight the stories of women who have fought for the emancipation of women’s rights globally and to re-educate people generally on the need for gender equality and female empowerment beginning from the family unit, schools, up to public and private institutions.
Q: What role does the private sector play in promoting gender equity? Why is it important to take gender concerns into account in corporate strategy development, program design, and program implementation?
The private sector especially in the sub Saharan accounts for a considerable percentage of well-paying jobs. The influence of this sector therefore in the drive to promote gender equality cannot be overemphasised.
If most of the organisations within the private sector have personnel policies that encourage gender equity and spell out actions to enable them, slowly but surely, the goals of gender equity and the empowerment of women at the workplace will be achieved.
It is important and value-adding to companies to take gender concerns into account in corporate strategy development, doing so will promote inclusion and drive gender equity as an organisational culture in a sustainable manner.
Gender consideration will allow for diverse analysis of a company’s potential and wider impact from programmes implementation, which will considerably determine the bottom line.
Q: What advice would you give to any young woman out there reading this?
Get an education and be empowered to do more, believe in yourself and aim high. Be audacious and always challenge the norm.
OVH Energy Concludes First Phase Of COVID-19 Intervention In Nigeria
OVH Energy Marketing, a licensee of the Oando retail brand, has wrapped up the first phase of its support for the Federal Government’s efforts at combating COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The company’s intervention includes various donations such as N50 million towards NNPC’s collective intervention funds made through Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), supply of test kits and the sum of N200 million as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, donation of palliatives to host communities in Apapa, Onne, Ogu and Kaduna to help cushion the negative effects of COVID-19.
As part of the contribution, OVH Energy has heightened safety and hygiene standards in all its facilities to ensure protection for clients, neighbors, customers and staff on essential duty who have carried on operations.
The organization has also distributed protective masks and OVH Energy produced hand sanitizers – ‘OVH Energy Hand Sanitizer’ to all OVH Energy Marketing staff at its operations facilities and retail outlets nationwide initiating its DIY (Do it Yourself) protocols.
Speaking on this initiative, the Chief Executive Officer, Huub Stokman said, “We each have our role to play in ensuring the safe health and well-being of everyone during these unprecedented times. Our donations underscore our support for nation-wide relief efforts and we appreciate the Government’s interventions so far and are proud to collaborate to ensure that critical stakeholders such as front line staff are protected during this crisis, and to enable more tests to be carried out in order to help save lives and ultimately defeat the pandemic.”
He also added that, “the spread of the Coronavirus in Nigeria meant that we immediately triggered our BCP (Business Continuity Plan) and initiated efforts to minimize the spread as much as we could. In times like this, personal hygiene measures cannot be overemphasized. We have shared with our employees measures which they should take in order to protect themselves and families.
We have also urged them to follow directives provided by health authorities. We will continue to monitor latest developments on the situation to take appropriate measures”.
OVH Energy’s donations have also been used to improve hospital facilities and establish isolation centers in Abuja and Yola. The company has scheduled the distribution of 3000 test kits across the country in states that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19.
The company’s provision of palliatives in form of food items and other materials has fed and supported over 320 families in communities where it operates, including Onne and Ogu – Rivers State, Apapa Marine Beach & Orisunmibare – Lagos State, Ekpan –Warri and Tasu Mahuta- Kaduna respectively.
OVH Energy Launches a New Service Station In Abuja
OVH Energy Marketing launched a new state of the art service station at Dei-Dei Junction, Abuja.
In line with the Company’s vision of enriching customer experience at its service stations, Dei-Dei retail station is designed with built in capacity to dispense over 300,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol) and 40,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil (Diesel) respectively per day with efficient lighting and adequate security. Other services available at the station includes LPG dispensing tank, Oleum Service Center with state of the art diagnostics and repair equipment, car wash, and a shopping mart. Present at the launch event were: Chief of Dei-Dei, Alhaji Dan Asabi Sharking Housasa Dei-Dei; Chairman Suru Local Government, Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi representing Kebbi State Governor; COO, OVH Energy, Mr. Mumuni Dagazau and CMO, Mrs. Lilian Ikokwu, amongst other OVH Energy staff members.
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