The 3rd edition of the Women of Essence Foundation International Women’s Day conference was held on Thursday March 12th, 2015 at the Events Centre, Hakeem Balogun St, CBD, Alausa Ikeja in Lagos State. The theme of the conference for this year was Woman, Make it Happen! The conference was well attended by over 200 women from all walks of life, including a former President of the National Council of Women’s Society (NCWS)- Mama Hilda Adefarasin who is also one of the matrons of the Women of Essence Foundation.
The conference started at about 9:20am with the anchor, Mrs. Omobolaji David-Ojumu, who invited one of the special guests, Pastor Mrs. Bola Osinubi to say the opening prayer. Shortly after the guests were introduced, the Vice Chairperson of the foundation, Mrs. Ronke Osikoya gave the welcome address. She declared that the time had come for women to get more involved in grassroots politics, own more businesses, create more employment and build the nation. Her short but impactful speech set the tone for motivation throughout the conference.
As the event unfolded, the Founder of the foundation, Mrs. Omokorede Fasoro gave the overview of the conference by reiterating the significance of the International Women’s Day and the theme ‘Woman! Make it Happen’. She gave examples of women who made great impacts while they were alive, and also mentioned women who are presently charting new territories and breaking barriers. Examples of these women are Harriett Turbman, Oprah Winfery, Dora Akunyuli respectively among others. She ended the session by charging women not to be observers in the change process, but to be determined that they will ‘Make it Happen’ in whatever field of endeavour they belong to.
The first guest speaker, Mrs. Funke Bucknor Obruthe, the CEO of Zappahire Events took the centre stage next to deliver her presentation on ‘Woman! Make it Happen in Business’. She spoke ardently about how her journey in events management started by chance, despite the fact that she was trained as a lawyer. Bucknor added that it was her passion for planning events and a clear vision and dedication that kept her in pursuit of excellence in business. She gave some vital tips for success in business and also indicated that integrity in business is very important, as well as strength of character to find the learning curve in every mistake made. She advised that structures and systems should be in place for any business, as well as a succession plan which is a determinant factor of the lifespan of any business.
Pastor Mrs. Ruth Essien of Women After Revival ministry took the stage next to deliver her presentation on ‘Woman! Make it Happen at the Home Front’. She began by taking the woman back to her origin as found in the Bible in Genesis chapter 2 (A woman being made from one of the bones of the first man-Adam). She mentioned the bone as the strongest part of the human body and then analyzed the importance of the bone to the body; its various vital functions including the fact that it controls every reflex of the body. Pastor Ruth emphasized the fact that a woman is the bone and she controls the entire body. Some of the guidelines she gave include the importance of using good building materials for a successful home by making God the foundation of the home.
In addition, she encouraged women to love themselves and take their health and well-being seriously. She concluded by charging women to build their character in order to effectively influence the children, thereby contributing to building leaders of integrity for Nigeria.
The third speaker, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin, delivered her presentation on ‘Woman! Make it Happen in the Social Space’. She proceeded to give a brief narrative of her journey into human rights activism and how a quote by Martin Luther King, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”, changed her life and gave her the determination to make a difference. She then gave some reasons why women are vital to the development of a nation’s economy. She believed that when women take control of their businesses, it gives them the opportunity to become active in the social space.
Odumakin mentioned further that agriculture in Nigeria shows that distribution of wealth is unequal, as women do not have control over agricultural resources (in particular land) even though production rests heavily on them. She concluded that the more united and assertive women are, the greater the achievement of a better society favourable to gender equality and women empowerment.
There was a question and answer session after each presentation, and this gave the participants an ample opportunity to bare their minds on issues of concerns.
In bringing the event to an end, Miss Oluwatoyin Ogungbayi gave the vote of thanks. The conference ended at 2:20pm with the closing prayer by one of the major supporters of WOMEF -Pastor Ayo Fasoro.
It was noticeably a refreshing and delightful time for everyone present.