Access Bank's ‘W Initiative' in collaboration with Lafarge Africa Plc organized a workshop with some of Nigeria's leading women professionals in manufacturing to discuss the issue of gender disparities in the manufacturing sector, while demonstrating the conviction that Women in Manufacturing is good for business.
With objectives including examining reasons for the unattractiveness of the sector to women, creating innovative solutions specifically targeted at professional women in manufacturing and increasing the number of women who work in the manufacturing industry, the workshop was attended by a large number of women executives and senior managers in the manufacturing sector
Setting the pace for discussions at the workshop, Access Bank's Executive Director, Elias Igbin-Akenzua declared that "approximately 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled because companies can't find qualified workers to fill them. Women are critical to filling this gap and we must empower them to do so. We must also reduce the barriers for women in manufacturing in accessing funds from financial institutions for those who may want to transit from employees to manufacturing business owners"
In her address to the gathering, MD Geocycle, Lafarge Africa Plc, Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo remarked that women represent manufacturing's largest pool of untapped talent and the dearth of women in manufacturing has been made more prominent recently, due to the potential skills shortage facing the industry.
Identifying Nigeria's formal education system as the most powerful agency of change from which several intelligent and confident women who now challenge many aspects of patriarchy in all leading occupations have emerged; Mrs. Adebajo sought for support, coaching and encouragement for more women to be successfully recruited and retained in manufacturing. She stated that "women have become leading industry players in different sectors which were for long the preserve of men - including manufacturing. The industry needs to send out the right message that women can, and do succeed in manufacturing careers".
Victoria Ibhawa of Deloitte provided valuable research and data and other notable speakers at the workshop touched on the existing dearth of women professionals in the sector, challenges they face and propositions on the way forward. This workshop is expected to culminate in the launching of a ‘think tank' group providing advice and ideas on attracting, retaining and advancing women in the manufacturing workforce.