•… Ezekwesili, Alakija, Shagaya, Chimamanda and others grace occasion
In what has been termed a major push for breaking the gender bias in Nigeria, leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc, in partnership with media entrepreneur-Linda Ikeji- celebrated the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) with an impressive networking event specifically for women to inspire one another, discuss pertinent challenges they face as well as proffer solutions on breaking the gender biases prevalent in the country.
The high-profile event, held at the Civic Centre, Lagos on Tuesday, 8 March 2022, featured several notable personalities including former World Bank Vice President and keynote speaker at the event, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist, Apostle Folorunso Alakija; MD/CEO, Practoil Ltd, Hajia Bola Shagaya; award-winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Iya Oge of Lagos, Opral Benson; Country Director, Empretec Nigeria Foundation, Onari Duke; Executive Vice Chairman, H. Pierson, Eileen Shaiyen; oil magnate and lawyer, Mrs. Uju Ifejika; seasoned actress and journalist, Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett; Former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Florence Ita-Giwa; Fashion and Style Connoisseur, Nkiru Anumudu; amongst a host of eminent ladies from across the country.
Aside from celebrating Nigerian women’s achievements in various industries and drawing attention to the issue of gender inequality, the event also served as a platform for the Bank to officially launch HerFidelity, its niche proposition for female customers. The proposition boasts of exciting features such as capacity development initiatives, access to finance, recognition and networking events, health and wellness programmes, etc, all designed to speak to the yearnings of women.
Welcoming guests to the event, the chief host and Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe said, “Despite the challenges women face, we continue to play a significant role in driving the economic, social and cultural development of our communities. Indeed, a recent PwC Nigeria report indicated that 41 percent of micro-businesses in Nigeria are run by women, with over 23 million female entrepreneurs operating in this segment. This exemplifies not only our drive as women but the immense value we bring to the table. Just imagine what we could achieve if the girl child is given the opportunity she deserves, encouraged to go to school and is judged by her competence and not by her complements! The possibilities are endless.”
During the very engaging evening, Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe made several Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) donations to women-led businesses on behalf of the bank, further demonstrating the bank’s unwavering commitment towards improving the well-being of women across the country. Speaking on the donations, she said, “One of the pillars of HerFidelity is Capacity Building. Therefore we are sponsoring five female-led enterprises today with a total sum of 5 million naira for training female apprentices.
“In addition, we are supporting Dream Catchers Academy for Girls—a free educational and performing arts academy for orphaned and underserved girls— with the sum of 10 million naira for an IT centre at the academy as well as one year of coding training for the girls. We believe this will go a long way to assist the young ladies who need a helping hand while enhancing their knowledge in the areas of technology.”
In her keynote speech, Dr. Ezekwesili, highlighted the importance of joining forces to fight gender discrimination and inequality ravaging the country, emphasising that, “The power of collaboration and cooperation is key as implicit bias is not something you can fight alone. It requires a coalition effort. You must build your own coalition. At every point in life, a woman must understand that she will face a major challenge because of the conditioning that society has given to itself. Therefore, build coalitions. We have the numbers and we must let the numbers work for us.”
She also encouraged forward-thinking organisations to be deliberate about gathering relevant baseline data and eliminating barriers to the career growth of women.
Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with about six million customers who are serviced across its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. In 2021, the bank was recognised as the “Fastest Growing Bank” and “MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.