Professor Osinbajo’s progress towards women’s empowerment
This year’s edition of International Women’s Day has come with a tough toll for ‘brands’, both private and public. Women will no longer tolerate the appropriation of this day – with brilliant images and amusing videos – by those in power, but without commensurate efforts to advance women’s inclusion.
To break the prejudice, this year’s edition has rallied the world to demand more than media statements and campaigns aimed at winning public applause – or more accurately, ‘retweets’ and ‘likes’. It won’t be enough, and the women have made that clear in their impassioned comments, especially to their arithmetic worst suspects.
There is no doubt that the returns will trigger a tense encounter between these entities and their media minders. However, they should note that the solution is not a brighter image or nicer concepts for “media content,” as one suspects managers are likely to suggest. Rather, it is about questioning their systems and verifying exclusionary practices, which are sometimes involuntary, and committing to creating an environment conducive to the adhesion and development of women. In other words, they must chart a path that produces results that are truly worth reporting, not cheeky contortions of annual themes.
If they need an example or guidance on how to achieve this, Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a valid role model. Her career in public and private service is a lesson in the upliftment of women and the effective elimination of prejudices that stand in the way of their progress. He is a true ally, in every sense of the word, and a true believer in the enormous talents and abilities of the Nigerian woman.
One of the many women who would happily attest to this – and perhaps announce the fact with a moving tribute on special days dedicated to celebrating women and praising their allies in power – is her official photographer as vice-president, Ms. Tolani Alli.
One doesn’t need a national survey to make the safe assumption that photography is a male-dominated creative field, at least in Nigeria. And the implication of this fact for women in the profession is an extra effort to demonstrate their competence and combat an innate, unnoticed but very powerful bias that those who represent the majority and are seen performing the task every other day, possess naturally the ability to do a better job. This is a big hurdle that denies opportunities to very talented women in the field.
This fact makes Prof. Osinbajo’s appointment and platform of Ms. Tolani Alli extremely symbolic and transformative. Not just for her, but for all women in this profession.
It was only recently that she released a compelling collection of images that told powerful stories of pivotal and intimate moments in the lives of the vice president and other members of the second family. It was a body of work that showcased Ms. Tolani Alli’s dedication to her craft and her almost innate sense of historical moments. She was always there, camera ready and well placed to freeze in time moments that may well define the future.
Equally important, and more relevant, is the fact that the entire work was also a testament to the level of access and support that Ms. Tolani Alli enjoys from her manager, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Her integration into her daily routine, her inclusion in certain private moments and her constant recognition as captured in several images, told another story: that of a boss concerned with ensuring that this young woman spent her time in the sun and that her skills receive deserved praise and reward. He would even join in promoting the work on his immensely popular social media platforms.
Of course, Professor Osinbajo didn’t have to. Other public officials have personnel on their personal data that no one hears about. But her alliance with women, and her sincere desire to see them thrive and succeed, informs the support and uplift Ms. Tolani Alli continues to enjoy. And because of that, she obviously improved her craft, secured a firm footing in the profession and, perhaps more importantly, gave the impetus and courage to other young women in the same profession to go further. far and aspire to the top.
This is how to break the bias. This is how we celebrate women. This is how to inspire a generation.
Osinbajo celebrated International Women’s Day at an event organized by the National Women’s Summit Coalition on Girls’ Education. While there, he highlighted the importance of another cause to which he has devoted time and resources during his career in public service; the education of girls and young women.
“The education of girls and young women is important for every nation. The poorest countries in the world are those with low rates of female education. All rich countries, big or small, have more than 80% of their women educated. Nigeria has almost an equal number of men and women, if we intentionally do not educate women, it means we are not educating half of our population,” he remarked.
His plan for women’s empowerment is clear, and he’s not just rhetorical or “influence hunting” as digital citizens would say. He has work to show, whether in the composition of his team or in the political leadership of the management of the country’s economy, especially when he has led it towards an unprecedented and record pandemic recovery, as well as the largest social investment program in the country.
It breaks the bias. Others who want to should follow his example.