By Ndubusi Nwachukwu/Perpetua Onuegbu
The Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria (APWEN) has charged Nigerian women to take up career professions and aspire for top positions in politics and industry.
Mrs Norah Magero, the Founder, Drop Access Kenya, Winner Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, said this at the International Conference Exhibition and APWEN 40th anniversary on Thursday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference was “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Engineering: Embracing Vision, Amplifying Voices and Shaping the Future.”
“Women should be reliable, dependable, value and think of the next generation to come and plan ahead, women should be determined to succeed, they should step up to do things differently to fulfill her purpose.
“It is very important to have a purpose, women engineers should change the narrative, for you as a woman to execute your actions you need to plan, you make progress when you learn to plan,’’ she said.
Mrs Bisola Atanda, the Sales Engineer, Schlumberger, U.S, and a Fellow, Nigeria Society of Engineers stressed the need for women to look into the future and plan toward retirement.
She said that retirement was an emotional journey as it brought about a total change of identity.
“When you retire, your identity will change totally, you will be at home always knowing what you will do to keep life moving, you have to engage in further studies in school and obtain more certificates.
“Also, engage in training people to add value to their lives, try to tell yourself that you can’t remain idle at home after retirement, don’t see yourself as an old person, try to identify your purpose here on earth, start saving some money to help you after retirement,”Atanda said.
Dr Elisabeth Eterigho, the President, APWEN said that the women in engineering were entrepreneurs who believed in using local content to innovate products that contributed to national development.
She said a woman was a creator, an innovator, that uses simple things around her even in her kitchen to produce durable and valuable products that enhance living and the society.
“Today, we are thinking of local content, design, production and let it be competitive. You know that you can even export it when it is well packaged.
“We have young women in engineering who are entrepreneurs, a young female engineer in one of our exhibition stands is using bamboo and raft palm to produce furniture, kitchenware and a series of decorative items.
“We are looking at applying our knowledge in engineering into production, solving people’s problems. Most engineers become entrepreneurs because that is the only way you can easily contribute to the economy.
“An engineer like I said is a problem solver so when you solve the problem do not leave it for somebody else go ahead and make it available and competitive in the market and then you produce it,’’ she said.
She said that for the woman engineer to reach her potential there had to be sustainable drive and equity in the distribution of administrative and managerial roles and good mentoring.
“Let us be the role models we have always been for aspiring female engineers, showing them that there is a place for them in this world of innovation and discovery; the engineering world.
“It is imperative that we use our voice to assert our presence, and pave the way for future generations of female engineers. We have the responsibility to build a future where every woman and girl can thrive.
“The future of engineering is in our hands, and it is a future we are shaping with each discovery, project and mentorship,’’ she said.
On the impact of the NGO in the last 40 years, Eterigho said it had a programme called ‘SheEngineer’ where they trained 500 students and 200 teachers in the 6 zones of the country and trained 50 engineers on STEM students.
“Also mentorship of over 200 graduate members on Entrepreneurship and are still on Job placements of over 5 graduates in different multinationals.
“Part sponsorship of graduates to study engineering related courses overseas, collaboration with the Nigerian Universities Engineering Students Association (NUESA), a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in organising STEM related completion.
“Invent It Build It’ is also one of the programmes we initiated as a group in the last fourth years where we built 2 fully built and furnished Pry School Science Laboratories with ICT classrooms, E- Technical Drawing Class and Science laboratories.
“Eighty one students across the six geopolitical zones on scholarship, under NNPC Ltd, from primary to university provided they will study engineering among many other things we have been able to achieve over the years,” the APWEN president said.
Speaking on the way forward for the association, Eterigho said the NGO was looking forward to greater exploits adding that the association was started by six forceful women but after 40 years the group had registered 4,300 female engineers and expected to register more. (NAN)