The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) has called for gender diversity in the Boards of Companies, Parastatal and other key positions in governance.
President of the association, Mrs Funmilola Ojelade, made this call at opening of the association’s 2021 International Conference and Annual General Meeting holding in Abuja on Tuesday.
The conference tagged `Women Engineers Driving Digital Transformation in Nigeria’ is a four-day event which began with a news conference on Monday,and will end on Thursday.
Ojelade said it was time for women to be given the pride of place in key positions of government and other sensitive organisations as they are showing their strength in the area of management and technology.
Ojelade, while enumerating the achievements of the association in building capacity of girls and women in the engineering field said the association wants to increase the number of practicing female engineers.
She added that since 2020 the association had become intentional in getting girls who study engineering to practice the profession.
She commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing 10 APWEN members to the Boards of various institutes such as the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
The Managing Director, Baker and Hughes Ghana, Mrs Oghogho Dixon, the keynote speaker, said digital technology plays a large role in our day to day lives.
According to her, sectors such as economy, finance, health, education, energy agriculture and government are users of technology for dissemination of information, enhancement of service delivery and reaching customers more effectively and efficiently.
Dixon said it had become clear that enabling digital environment was needed to develop individuals especially women within this sectors.
“This requires an involvement of women in economy and social development equal opportunities and equal participation of women and men as agents and beneficiaries of people centred sustainable development.
“It is a brave new world where you can be judged on the work you do, sex is not a barrier in the digital tech industry in Nigeria and in Africa.
“In 2020 World Economic pools said that Nigeria is already Africa largest technology market, this means that the market is already there for the women in digital technology in Nigeria.
She, therefore, called for more opportunities for women by demystifying digital technology to help women tap into this lucrative and transformative sector.
According to her, government can ensure this by increasing women participation in research, development and technology.
“Provision of some tax incentives and additional financing by the government of Nigeria, not only to male or female innovators but also to institutions that encourage women research and innovation.
“The government should create a women venture top off fund which would provide additional finance up to a portion of a given investment, among other incentives,’’ the chief executive said.
The Governor of Kebbi, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, said the women needed to be supported to achieve their dreams adding that the country has a great number of brilliant world class women engineers.
“We need to do more so that more of our younger ones and women will be able to be voted and achieve their dreams because they are good as the best around the world.
“We have been supporting in particular girl child education by recognizing that they need to be supported more.
“The more we support them, the more they become better.
In terms of the scholarship, it’s almost automatic that a girl child (female) gets admission for engineering wherever in the world and she will be highly supported.
“There are programmes that we need to carve out a nitch for the women.
“N15 trillion infrastructural plan is going to be unfolded by the Central Bank of Nigeria in October, which means women engineers should mobilise and itemised how they can participate in the scheme,’’ Bagudu said.
On his part, the President of Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Mr Ali Rabiu, noted that the theme for the conference was apt as there was need to update processes that would make digitalisation possible.
“We need to update our data, processes and operations and I think this is what digital processes is all about, I will like to call on all the participants to pay attention to the technical papers.
“Let me commend the leadership of APWEN for the increased visibility and vibrancy of the association in recent times and I think this is what has created the advantage for the competitive edge and the competitive advantage for women engineers.
“I am a strong believer in the paradigm shift in our society, Nigeria Society of Engineers and the time is now. APWEN, show us that you are ready, I want to assure you that a lot us will support you in the scheme of things,’’ Rabiu said.(NAN)