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A Woman’s Place Is In The Boardroom

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The phrase “a woman’s place is in the boardroom” emphasizes the importance of gender equality and women’s participation in leadership roles, particularly in corporate governance. Historically, corporate boardrooms have been predominantly male-dominated spaces, with women often underrepresented or excluded altogether. This saying advocates for the inclusion of women in decision-making positions within organizations, recognizing their capabilities, expertise, and contributions to business success.

Promoting gender diversity in the boardroom not only fosters a more inclusive and equitable work environment but also brings about various benefits. Research has shown that companies and countries with diverse boards tend to outperform those with less diverse ones, as diverse perspectives lead to better decision-making, innovation, and overall organizational performance.

Efforts to increase female representation in the boardroom include initiatives such as quotas, diversity training, mentorship programs, and advocacy for equal opportunities in career advancement. By challenging traditional gender roles and breaking down barriers to women’s advancement, societies and businesses can harness the full potential of their talent pool and achieve greater success and sustainability.

Thus, the recent media brouhaha over the announcement of Dame (Dr) Adaora Umeoji OON by Zenith Bank as its incoming Group Managing Director and CEO pending the CBN’s approval demands some objective reflection away from her appearance.

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A woman’s right to her real estate.

In March 2009, at the 53rd Session of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women in New York, one of the contributors during a Nigerian side event had stated unequivocally that “A woman’s body is probably her only piece of real estate!” She cautioned that Nigeria had no right to legislate on women’s bodies as that would be tantamount to infringing on their bodily autonomy and by implication, their agency. The session held on the heels of the 2008 “Indecent Dressing” Bill introduced by the chairperson of the Nigerian Senate’s Committee on Women, Senator Eme Ufot Ekaette, to prohibit indecent dressing.

At the public hearing on the bill in July 2008, there was a consensus that its provisions portend grave danger for the safety and security of Nigerians particularly girls or women over the age of 14 years who will be targeted. The bill proposed to grant powers of arrest and invasion of citizens’ personal space especially women’s bodies by both police officers and ordinary citizens to undertake vigilante action against anyone they merely perceive to be ‘indecently dressed’. Thankfully, the bill did not scale through.

Sadly, on October 1, 2009, as Nigeria celebrated its 59th independence anniversary, Grace Ushang, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member serving in Maiduguri, Borno State was raped to death by men, who, according to the story, ‘took offence because she was wearing her Khaki trousers – the official uniform of corps members.

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Regulating Womanhood.

There must be something about a woman’s body that emboldens society to think they have the right to regulate under the guise of customs, traditions, and morality. From the average man on the streets who thinks he can violate a girl or a woman whenever he feels the urge; to lawmakers who think their powers in parliament include the right to decide when women and girls should marry, who to marry, what to wear, what to eat, their reproductive rights, body shape, when to menstruate or reach menopause and generally everything that goes on in our bodies; everybody wants to regulate women.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, visiting the National Assembly and government institutions in Abuja as a woman attracted scrutiny, looks of disapproval and sometimes, even harassment. From the security gate, every Akin, Yakubu and Emeka felt that as ‘gatekeepers’, they had the right to judge how women were dressed. Many women were restricted or denied entrance in some instances.

Grace Ushang’s brutal killing is only one of the many deaths and harassment of women and girls by hypocritical persons who have abrogate to themselves the morality police toga to regulate their bodies and appearances. Fifteen years after her brutal murder, Nigerian women are still grappling with these mundane conversations to defend and justify their appearance and now the shape of their bodies or colour of their clothes to an audience who should be more focused on figuring out the solution to the nation’s many development challenges.

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From legislating over what women wear, say and do, Nigerians now want to decide how a woman should look and the kind of body shapes and facial features that qualify for the corporate sector or boardroom, how preposterous! Our society needs to come to terms with the reality that women’s bodies are not their constituency and stop legislating on women’s bodies. Rather, they ought to focus on the economy, education, health and general infrastructure. If we spend as much time on development and growth like we do on regulating how women should live their lives, Nigeria would be a much more advanced state.

 

What has looks got to do with it?

At the last count, the Nigerian banking sector had a total of 11 female Managing Directors/Chief Executives with Adaora being the latest addition. Her appointment has been met with all sorts of criticisms, celebrations, and everything in between. Many of these criticisms come from insecure misogynistic men who by all indications have fragile egos and so they thrive on leading campaigns of calumny against successful women in all fields. Their criticisms target women who have shattered the glass ceilings in every field particularly those who do not fit into the space they feel that women should occupy.

Perhaps if Adaora had won a Miss Nigeria pageant, become the face of a beauty product, or launched a hospitality business, the avalanche of criticisms would not have happened. That’s not to say that those in these fields are doing less amazing things. On the contrary, many Nigerian women have done and continue to excel in these endeavours and more, but society doesn’t want women to thrive beyond those spaces. Rather than focus on her accomplishments academically and in the banking sector, many have chosen to focus on her figure, colour of her dress and even made uncomplimentary remarks about her suitability for the role. Comments which this article will refrain from further giving media attention.

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The media has not been kind either with some scathing editorials by those who should know better but chose not to. Even those who appear to be in support of her accomplishments have somehow let their prejudice, bias and misogyny come through their writings by referencing her ‘numerous’ degrees, beauty, and marital status as if that will somehow magically erase all the negative media vitriol.

Adaora is exactly where needs to be, in the right body, with the right academic qualifications and career experience for this herculean task. She is an amazon treading a path where even angels fear to tread. She ticked all the boxes as far as qualifications go, so her appearance became a target for those who will always shift the goal posts when it comes to women. The best we can all do is to support her and wish her well. No woman is too beautiful, too married, too single, too svelte, or overqualified for leadership because a woman’s place is in the boardroom too.

Finally, dear world, please stop putting all your energy into deciding what goes on in or around a woman’s body – it is probably the only piece of real estate given to us by God.



Source link: Leadership

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