Gender Conversations on International Women’s Day

Gender conversations are such a huge thing particularly at this time and most of the conversations tend toward giving more women a voice. Recently, in order to commemorate International Women’s Day, the conversation was about women breaking the bias in society.

About this time last year 2021, the SMC organized a webinar and we had five veteran journalists discussing how female communicators can be enabled to be the best version of themselves. The topic was; Telling the African stories in the new decade: The enablers, challengers, challenges, and the opportunities.

In retrospect, there was a common opinion among the speakers that while more women are encouraged to take up the reins of leadership in organisations, it is often the result of hardwork that takes them there. Organisations want people who can do the job well, effectively, and deliver on result.

The first thing is working hard, and when organisations find young women who are ready to put in the work, these young ones will find someone to support them. Working hard, meeting the deliverables, making people understand that she can do the job, distinguishing herself for herself, not because of anybody, and making sure she is working with the right set of people are all it takes for the woman to succeed.

Every organisation has two sets of people, the progressives and the complainers. It depends on who you associate with when you come into an organisation. On the boards that she belonged to, Toyosi Ogunseye, Head West Africa at BBC said that for her, it was a word of recommendation from her support network, she didn’t bid for it. It was her work ethic and what she represents that brought her that network of people that she worked with. She said, ‘I am just someone, a human being who tries to contribute her quota wherever she finds herself.’

While she would want to push more on how women can do more and be more, Stephanie Busari who is Multiplatform bureau lead and Supervising Editor, Africa at CNN, said that from her experience, she has been fortunate to work with people who see beyond her gender and this is because she did not put gender on the front burner in conversations in the newsroom or in the board room.

Women should show interest in things that are beyond lipstick and hair. Though these are good, they should be able to contribute to any conversation. Women somehow allow patriarchy to continue to exist when they become inaccessible. They are the ones raising children and the influence they carry is very powerful.

In her words, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Editor in Chief at TW Magazine Nigeria, said, ‘which is why I still choose to talk to women to realize that they need to raise their kids to see people as people; biology makes us male or female but our intellect is neither male nor female.

She said that marriage is not a be-all and end-all. It is just a happenstance unlike the gift of life. Therefore women need to come out more and see themselves beyond what they are as a gender.

Women themselves can begin to change the narrative so that people can come to them. They should publicize what they do and stop being afraid to say they are experts at something.