Talabi Taiwo Michael is the Publisher VIP Magazine and passionate gender advocate. In this interview with ENE OSHABA he speaks on the upcoming VIP 100+1 Women of Impact Award among other issues.
What is the 100+1 Women of Impact Award all about?
The VIP 100+1 Women of Impact Award is recognition of distinction conceptualized by a team of advocates of gender equality to honour women of valour who have made significant impact as leaders in the public and private sectors.
For clarity, +1 is a Posthumous Award of Excellence for deceased woman of impact like Maryam Babangida, the pioneer of the office of the 1st Lady enjoyed today and founder of Better Life for Rural Women.
She recorded for herself and the country landmark achievements hence the reason her legacy lives on.
There are lots of rich women and men who have not made any impact in the lives of individuals or the society. So for those who have made significant impact on the society, on women and girls are worthy and deserve recognition.
As a man what motivated you to recognise achievements by women?
Of course, as a man and an approved representative of ECOSOC-Accredited NGOs in the last concluded 65 Commission on Status of Women (CSW65) UN Women Conference held virtually in March 2021, it is more fascinating for me to discuss these unusual women of courage.
This is because women have been disregarded severally in the past and relegated to the other room in recent times. This situation has not been adequately addressed or been put to check hence the chronicling of these women of impact by our amiable team of the VIP magazine.
What do you hope to achieve with the awards?
I intend to achieve fulfilment of purpose as due recognitions and honour would have been accorded to whom it is due without waiting endless for national honours. For some women, the VIP Awards is equal to the national honours thereby breaking the jinx.
Many Nigerians have questioned the credibility of award packages especially as they are organised for financial gains. Is the VIP Awards different?
Yes, the VIP Awards is different. This is a prestigious Award of Excellence that is different from the regular plaque you grab easily from the market.
They are specially designed by world-class sculptors from the UK, France, and others to mention a few.
What are the criteria for selecting nominees?
There are women of influence, power, and success but a woman of impact stands out of the crowd. Why? This is because impact begins where influence, power, and success put together stops. You may possess these fantastic three without positive impact. Therefore, the criteria for nomination are precise and selection is painstakingly conducted with a focus on leadership and impactful contributions made so far which must be visible and verifiable through reliable sources.
Patriarchy is still a major hindrance to women’s growth and development. How can this be surmounted?
The dominant ideology of men holding sensitive positions for too long while relegating women to some lesser authorities is dramatically shifting with a thunderous wind of change.
With Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States setting the pace, the following women of strengths are rewriting history too: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala DG-WTO; Dr. Amina J. Mohammed UN Deputy Secretary-General, Justice Monica D. Mensem President of the Nigerian Court of Appeal; Mrs. Aisha N. Ahmed CBN-Deputy Governor; Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefun MD/CEO Unity Bank Plc, and five other prominent female bank managing director/chief executive officers (MD/CEOs) and 21 female vice-chairpersons of Local Government Areas in Kogi state; the first in the history of Nigeria to have all LGA vice chairperson as women.
With these trends, I can confidently say patriarchy would be subdued in no time and therefore would not be a barrier anymore.
Gender advocates are demanding review of the constitution and other Acts and policies that can enable women’s growth. What is your position on this?
The growth and protection of women is important because women’s rights are human rights according to the United Nations.
There has been a long history of different kinds of violations of women as many are faced with constant assaults, discrimination, and sexual molestation but with limited access to justice.
I am in full support of the review of the constitution to give room for policy changes for equality and equity between men and women thereby closing the long gap of gender parity.
What roles can women play in nation building?
Studies have shown that women play key roles in nation-building by promoting the socio-economic development of a society which can lead to the economic and political stability of a country.
A woman can naturally function as an administrator, director-general, wife, mother, caretaker of children, and caregiver to elders.
What roles can men play to enable more women development and growth?
The regular aid of the men as gender advocates of women empowerment and girl-child education would no doubt lead to the development of women and the society.
What advice would you give government on women’s development especially to enable them have pride of place in the polity?
Any responsible government must protect the rights of her women in all ramifications. Empowering women and the girl-child to reach their full potential is an essential key to economic growth and social transformation.