The twin attributes of empathy and resilience make women better leaders, a renowned university lecturer has said
This was the consensus at an international webinar hosted by the Movement of Women in Lagos State Institutions for Good Governance (MOWLAS) in Lagos during the week.
Speaking at the summit with the theme “Leadership Paradigm Shift and Role of Women in the Realities of Covid-19”, Professor Bolanle Iranloye, a professor of Physiology at the University of Lagos College of Medicine, said Nigeria stood a better chance to weather the negative impacts of the ongoing pandemic if women were assigned more leadership roles in critical sectors of its political economy.
The scholar specifically argued that the myth of male superiority was no longer in view of the realities of the day.
“Before now, it was often said that leadership was only for the male gender. But the outstanding performance of women in leadership has created an awakening in us that drives us towards a paradigm shift.
“Women in leadership positions are excelling, even in spite of limited opportunities. Women leadership will continue to evolve as more women rise through the ranks and break down barriers,” she said.
The event, which drew 90 participants from Nigeria, Canada and United States of America, was convened and moderated by former acting Vice Chancellor, and Director, Directorate of Advancement, Lagos State University, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello.
Speaking further, Professor Iranloye identified the womenfolk as the gender who can better multi-task even in stressful situations.
She cited New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, China, Norway, Finland as countries where women folk have proved their leadership mettle during the Covid-19 challenge.
She however lamented that the situation was different in Nigeria which has just one woman out of the 12 members of the presidential task force for COVID-19.
She said, “Women have proven to be master multi-taskers and highly collaborative. They possess certain leadership attributes such as empathy, resilience, intuition and sensitivity. Empathy and resilience make them great leaders.”
She listed the Late Dr. Stella Adadevoh, late Prof. Dora Akunyili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika and Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa as worthy examples of those who have excelled in various sectors and concluded that in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, women are best positioned to lead their organisations out of the woods: “When there is crisis, call a woman; when there is need for efficient leadership, call a woman.”
Iranloye’s sentiments were echoed by another speaker, Dr. Oluseun Popoola, Head of Department and Chief Lecturer, Department of Science Laboratory Technology, Yaba College of Technology.
Speaking on the topic “Women as Good Navigators in the Realities of COVID-19 Pandemic (Home front and Career)”, Dr. Popoola observed that in spite of their huge potentials, women’s careers have always been hampered by combining career and family, slowed by the traditionally assigned responsibility of managing the home, and characterised by interruptions, exits, and biological realities.
She encouraged women to explore flexible and remote working conditions provided by the Covid-19 to balance career and home front in the new normal, adding that women must avoid falling victims of Covid-19 associated stress and maintain their resilience.
Another speaker, Dr. Medinat Osundiya, corroborated Popoola’s position, adding that by virtue of their sex, women have been at the receiving end of Covid-19 pandemic citing the increase in domestic violence as a pointer.
She said women must play an active role in the new normal.
“In the health sector, women make up to 70% of the total global workforce and they have been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19”, she said.
On education, Osundiya said, “COVID-19 has brought unprecedented disruption in educational settings forcing the closure of school for a long time. Reopening of schools will witness rise in school drop-outs occasioned by surge in teen pregnancies and early marriage. Women must be part of the entity that will combat the rise in school drop-outs.”
She added that with flexible and remote work being the new normal, the world was in the digital age, and so women must acquire training and knowledge in the use of digital gadgets to enhance their opportunities of getting and maintaining jobs.