APC PROFESSIONAL WOMEN COUNCIL UK ZONE Inspires Inclusion and Empowerment in Nigerian Politics

by Joseph Omoniyi
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The APC Professional Women Council UK Zone recently hosted a vibrant event in celebration of International Women’s Day. The event, themed “Inspire Inclusion,” aimed to create an inclusive environment where all women can thrive. The event brought together professionals, entrepreneurs, and leaders from various fields to discuss empowerment, leadership, and gender equality.

The event kicked off with a series of insightful talks and goodwill messages. Toks Olunloyo, the event host and Coordinator, APC Professional Women Council, UK Zone, delivered a talk on finance, parenting, self-development, and leadership, setting the tone for the day. Mrs. Susan Jegumah, the APC Woman Leader, and Honorable Tunde Doherty, Chairman APC UK Interim Committee also delivered goodwill messages, highlighting the importance of women’s inclusion in all aspects of society.

Hon. Tunde Doherty appreciated Toks Olunloyo for a job greatly done, so far. “You have made us proud. We have identified some of the challenges we have in the party, especially where the diaspora is concerned. We must challenge ourselves to have a coordinated voice. So far, we have ensured that the voice of the APC diaspora is not just heard but is enshrined in the party constitution. We have a lot to give to our country, Nigeria. Everybody here is a professional and skillful, but we need to work together, brainstorm together, and see ourselves as equal. I encourage all of us because, with unity, we will always be able to break the glass ceiling”.

The Founder of the APC Professional Women Council, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo shared the journey of the APC Professional Women Council UK Zone, shedding light on its mission and accomplishments.

Sharing insights on what the group is about, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo said, “We offered palliatives for women that are seriously in need. Also, we don’t just share our expertise, we amplify women’s voices. We mentor, collaborate, and create a space where women can rise together. We are the embodiment of what the party stands for, that is, empowerment, inclusion and a future where women are not just relegated to the kitchen, but shape the entire menu. We empower others, create support for each other and climb the political ladder together.

The top is very lonely. A lot of women desire to climb to the top but they don’t know what to do exactly, without compromising their integrity. I have been in APC for about 10 years and I have never compromised. It depends on the way you carry yourself as a woman. Don’t let anybody tell you that, because you’re in politics you’ve got to be a dirty woman. You’ve got to learn from everybody and let people know you for what you stand for. Let integrity go before you. Initially, it might make you unpopular, but as you grow, it’s going to pay off. Never let anybody discourage you that you cannot survive in politics. If all of us decide to fold our arms, especially professional women, who then would be ruling us. So, I’m challenging every woman in the house to please, rise to the occasion.”

One of the special guests of honour and speakers, Abike Dabiri-Erewa who was unavoidably physically absent, but did join virtually, spoke about the roles of women in politics. She said the participation and representation is still very low with only 5.6 percent of the Nigerian Senate being women while the House of Representatives has just 6.5 percent. Abike noted that when she was in the parliament it was much better than that. She advocated and encouraged the women to gear up to participate in terms of representation, in Nigerian politics.

The pioneering journalist at the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA pointed out that these challenges are due to the Nigerian political culture that is against the Nigerian women.

However, Abike noted that the women must not wallow in pity or point accusing fingers but must rise to the challenge to change the narratives. While appreciating the organizers of the event, she highlighted the need to continue to have conversations like this, mentorship, unified voice and support.

She further said, “Every day, I thank God for the privilege of being a woman. It is rough and tough, but we can weather the storm. When I was going to go into politics, “I heard it’s dirty”, I didn’t even think I could contest elections, but here I am, 3-time Member of the House of Representatives. You don’t have to play dirty, as a woman. Have a guiding principle and philosophy. And, there is no alternative to hard work and adding value. As women, you are all entrepreneurs and very successful women. Let’s come together with a powerful force and agent of change”.

During the panel discussion Councillor Sade Sobanjo-Etti provided valuable insights into politics from a UK perspective. Toks Olunloyo also shared her thoughts on the topic, offering a unique perspective on women’s participation in politics.

The event featured a lineup of distinguished speakers and panelists, including:

Sharon Wint-Gordon: A financial consultant who shared insights on financial wisdom for women, emphasizing the importance of financial education and resilience.

Amb. Lorna Marah: A Global Peace Ambassador and founder/CEO of Rhybia Consulting, who spoke about encouraging entrepreneurs and businesses to stand in their power.

Prof. Dr. Parin Somani: Director of London Organisation of Skills Development, who discussed the glass ceiling and its impact on women’s advancement in leadership roles.

Chioma Fanawopo: A diversity and inclusion specialist who addressed the topic of raising emotionally resilient children in the 21st century.

Her Excellency Mrs. Asia Ahmad El-Rufai delivered a powerful keynote address, urging society to break the barriers and stereotypes that limit women’s inclusion and empowerment. She emphasized the importance of raising children in an inclusive environment to create a more inclusive society.

The event also included the inauguration of the APC Professional Women Council UK Zone’s newly updated executive team:

Coordinator – Mrs Toks Omowunmi Olunloyo; Deputy coordinator/ Head, Media and Publicity – Mrs Bolaji Odunuga; Youth Leader – Mrs Obiageli Stella Ngoesina; Head, Contact and Mobilization – Mrs Yetunde Awolesi; Head, Training & Empowerment – Dr Yemisi Akindele; Head, Finance & Sponsorship – Mrs Kudirat Olowosale; State Coordinator London – Mrs Gbemisola Ademola; State Coordinator South England – Councillor Sade Sobanjo Etti; State Coordinator North England – Mrs Oluranti Omobola Ogunmulele.

APC Professionals, which is currently under the leadership of Director General Hon Seyi Bamigbade, is made up of various professional bodies with the objective of providing platforms for political participation in Nigeria as a nation.

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