IBEDC Hosts DISCO for Women Conference
Over 400 Nigerian women from private sector, government agencies and academic institutions came to discuss narrowing the gender gap and women’s career opportunities in the inaugural Women in Energy Conference, held by Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) in Ibadan on July 28, 2016.The event, organized in partnership with USAID, focused on how to build career strategies and navigate the complex and competitive work environment as a woman. “Women should not stay in the background but see themselves up to the task and able to measure up with men in their chosen career path,” said one of the participants, Adeyemo Ganiyat Omowunmi, engineer at IBEDC.
Participants, the majority of whom came from the energy field, discussed opportunities for women in the power sector, still not a common career choice for women in Nigeria. They also heard presentations on various gender-related topics, such as “Can the Nigerian Woman Rise in Corporate Leadership?” and “Work Life Balance: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All in the Corporate World.”
The conference, titled “Discussing Issues Surrounding Career Opportunities” (DISCO) for women, was envisioned by Ehi Obaseki from IBEDC’s Human Resources Department, who saw the need to develop a platform for the advancement of women within her own company, but also outside of it. She believed that by improving women’s access to career information and development, it will be possible to bridge the gender gap. As one platform to do so, she proposed to hold an annual women’s conference.
In Nigeria, where women are disadvantaged in many aspects of livelihood and well-being, including employment and income, the conference was groundbreaking. “I saw women who are eager to learn how they can move up in their chosen field of endeavor,” said Rita Fadare, Employee Relations Officer from IBEDC. “We discussed issues pertaining to glass ceiling effect and pay-disparity and took an in-depth look at small and medium scale enterprises development and business innovations. Above all, we learned about proven secrets on how women can challenge the status-quo and break free from the societal, traditional, cultural and corporate gender stereotypes.”
During the event, IBEDC’s Deputy Managing Director John Ayodele told about the company’s commitment to continually provide opportunities for women in the field of engineering. To put his words into action, he announced IBEDC’s new mentoring program for women to support their professional growth and development, which was received with great excitement by many of the participants.
Majority of the women also took advantage of the post-conference opportunity to network with peers and industry leaders. The conference provided a unique stage to share ideas and forge sustainable alliances with top female professionals. These alliances are a step towards achieving personal and career goals.
“I am happy I attended this conference,” said Bilikisu Adeola Jimoh, Engineer from IBEDC. “I learned that my career growth depends on me and that I have the ability to compete with my male counterparts. I am looking forward to next year’s conference and will invite other women to participate as well.”
Advancing women’s work force development is a win for everyone. Studies have shown that investing in girls and women will increase national productivity and promote sustainable growth, peace and better health for the next generation.
Women in Energy Conference was supported by USAID’s Engendering Utilities Program which aims to increase women’s professional participation in the energy distribution sector and expand women’s career options, while improving the quality and cost of electricity services.
See pictures from the event below