In what has been described as a major effort to break gender bias in Nigeria, leading financial institution, Fidelity Bank Plc, in partnership with media entrepreneur – Linda Ikeji – celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 with an awesome networking event especially for women to inspire each other, discuss relevant challenges they face and offer solutions to break down the gender biases prevalent in the country.
The high profile event, held at the Civic Center in Lagos on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, was attended by several notable personalities including the former Vice President of the World Bank and keynote speaker at the event, the 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 president, H. Pierson, Eileen Shaiyen; oil tycoon and lawyer, Mrs. Uju Ifejika; veteran 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; among a crowd of eminent ladies from across the country.
Apart from celebrating the achievements of Nigerian women 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 proposition niche for customers. The proposal boasts of exciting features such as capacity development initiatives, access to funding, recognition and networking events, health and wellness programs, etc., all designed to meet the aspirations of women.
Welcoming guests to the event, Ms. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Chief Host and Managing Director/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc, said: “Despite the challenges women face, we continue to play an important role in driving economic, social and cultural development. of our communities. Indeed, a recent report by PwC Nigeria indicated that 41% of micro-enterprises in Nigeria are run by women, with over 23 million female entrepreneurs operating in this segment. This illustrates not only our dynamism as women, but also the immense value we bring to the table. Imagine what we could achieve if the little girl had the opportunity she deserved, was encouraged to go to school and judged on her skills and not on her complements! The possibilities are limitless.”
During the highly engaging evening, Ms. Onyeali-Ikpe made several corporate social responsibility (CSR) donations to women-led businesses on behalf of the bank, demonstrating the bank’s unwavering commitment to improving well-being of women across the country. Speaking on donations, she said: “One of the pillars of HerFidelity is capacity building. That is why we are now sponsoring five women-led businesses with a total sum of N5 million for the training of female apprentices.
“Additionally, we are supporting Dream Catchers Academy for Girls – a free education and performing arts academy for orphaned and underserved girls – with the sum of N10 million for a computer center at the academy as well as “one year of coding training for the girls. We believe this will go a long way in helping young women who need a helping hand while improving their knowledge in areas of technology.”
In his keynote address, Dr. Ezekwesili underscored the importance of joining forces to tackle the gender discrimination and inequalities that plague the country, stressing that “the power of collaboration and cooperation is essential , because implicit bias is not something you can fight alone. It requires a coalition effort. You must build your own coalition. At every stage of life, a woman must understand that she will face a major challenge due to the conditioning that society has given itself. Therefore, build coalitions. We have the numbers and we have to let the numbers work for us.
She also encouraged forward-thinking organizations to think about collecting relevant benchmark data and removing barriers to women’s career growth.
Fidelity Bank is a fully-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with approximately six million customers who are served through its 250 business offices and digital banking channels. In 2021, the bank was recognized as the “Fastest Growing Bank” and the “MSME and Entrepreneurship Finance Bank of the Year” at the 2021 BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions Awards (BAFI) Awards.