#IWD2021 is tagged #ChooseTo Challenge
International Women’s Day (IWD) marked annually on March 8th is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
This year, the United Nations came up with the theme #ChooseToChallenge to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and fundraise for female-focused charities.
Nigeria Today came up with a list of Nigerian Women who #ChooseToChallenge in male dominated sectors and have done incredible job at it.
1. FUNKE OPEKE
Funke Opeke, a graduate of Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife is the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MainOne, formerly Main One Cable Company. The company is a leading communications service and network solutions provider in Nigeria, driving access to internet connectivity. The company built West Africa’s first privately-owned, open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high capacity cable submarine stretching from Portugal to South Africa with landings along the route in Accra, Ghana, and Lagos, Nigeria.
Ms Opeke, who has a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York, is an experienced telecommunications executive who returned to Nigeria in 2005 as the Chief Technical Officer of MTN after a twenty-year career in the United States. Prior to her return, she was the Executive Director of Verizon Communications Wholesale Division.
Subsequent to MTN, Ms Opeke advised Transcorp on the acquisition of NITEL and briefly served as the interim Chief Operating Officer, post-acquisition of NITEL.
2. MAYEN ADETIBA
Engineer Mayen Adetiba born on 17th April 1951 is a woman who #ChooseToChallenge in the engineering sector. Mayen who left Nigeria in October 1970 was going to study Accounting, changed to Computer Science, and later inspired to study Electrical Electronics. However, in the end, she settled for Civil Engineering at Columbia University. She went on to take her master’s degree at Cornell University.
Adetiba has broken so many barriers in the engineering profession having been elected President of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Nigeria and a three-time Vice-President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
She is the first female graduate Engineer from the entire South-South Zone of Nigeria. She was the first woman to be elected to the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. Her career includes presiding over the African regional body of the International Association of Consulting Engineers.
Mayen also proved to be a woman of many sides. Between 1969 and 1970 dabbled into journalism and broadcasting as a freelancer. She was in the original cast of “The Village Headmaster”. Mayen modelled products for some of the topmost advertising agencies in Nigeria between 1969 – 1970. She also acted in the First Professional English Movie directed by Wole Soyinka, “KONGI’S HARVEST” in 1969.
Juliet Anammah is the Chief Executive Officer for Jumia Nigeria a position she took over from former Co-CEOs Jeremy Doutte and Nicolas Martin, who are taking the reins of Jumia Global across the 11 African countries in which the group operates.
Prior to joining Jumia, Juliet Anammah was a Partner in Accenture and the Managing Director of the firm’s Consumer Goods Practice in Nigeria. She focused during her later years in Accenture on the digital consumer and route to market for consumer goods companies. She brings to Jumia her sterling qualities summed up in 24 years of professional experience with six years at the senior executive level.
Passionate about “Africa rising” and women’s advancement, Juliet serves on the board of many non-profit organizations involved in women’s development and trade expansion.
BANKING AND FINANCE
4. OLUWATOMI SOMEFUN
Mrs Oluwatomi Somefun is the current Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank, a position she has occupied since 2015. She was up until January 2021, one of the only two female bank CEOs in Nigeria.
In 1981, Mrs. Somefun obtained a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) in English from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife).
Somefun, a chartered accountant, with a banking career that spans over two decades, has proven her capabilities in the Nigerian banking space. She is an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School and the University of Columbia Business School, New York. She started her career in the financial service industry with Peat Marwick and Co. After, she moved to Arthur Andersen – now KPMG.
The phenomenal banker was the pioneering Managing Director (MD)/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UBA Pension Custodian Ltd. She managed UBA Pension Custodian Ltd for eight years and also supervised the South-West region of the bank at the same time.
5. NNEKA ONYEALI-IKPE
Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe born 16th of August 1968 joined the likes of Oluwatomi Somefun of Unity Bank and Bola Adesola of Standard Chartered Bank, Nigeria who are or have been Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of a bank on January 2021.
Onyeali-Ikpe with over 30 years of experience across various banks is the first female Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London and has attended executive training programmes at notable global institutions including Harvard Business School; The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania; INSEAD School of Business; Chicago Booth School of Business; London Business School and IMD.
The new Fidelity Bank MD/CEO held several management positions in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking, and Corporate Banking. As an Executive Director at legacy Enterprise Bank, she received a formal commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), as a member of the management team that successfully turned around Enterprise Bank.
6. OBY EZEKWESILI
Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili, born 28th April 1968 was instrumental in the start of the viral #BringBackOurGirls campaign on social media. She contested for the office of the president of Nigeria on the platform of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria in the 2019 Presidential election.
She served as Federal Minister of Solid Minerals then as the Minister of Education in Nigeria during the second-term presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. She led a comprehensive reform program within the education sector including restructuring and refocusing the ministry for the attainment of Education for All (EfA) targets and Millennium Development Goals.
Ms. Ezekwesili began her career with Deloitte & Touche, where she worked as an auditor and management and financial services consultant. She was a co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany.
She was appointed Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa Region in 2007 to May 2012.
Ms. Ezekwesili is a chartered accountant and holds a Master’s degree in International Law & Diplomacy from the University of Lagos, a Master’s degree in Public Policy & Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nigeria. In 2006, Ms. Ezekwesili was given the national award of Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (COFR). She is married to Pastor Chinedu Ezekwesili and has three sons.
7. AISHA YESUFU
Aisha Yesufu, born 12th December 1974 in Kano state is a Nigerian socio-political activist, and co-convener of the #BringBackOurGirls Movement, an advocacy group that brings attention to the abduction of over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Nigeria, on 14th April 2014, by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
Yesufu has also been at the forefront of the #EndSARS movement, which draws attention to the excesses of a controversial police unit in the Nigeria Police Force, called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Yesufu has said she “would not leave the fight against #EndSARS protest in Nigeria for her children.”