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APWEN President tasks women on clear policies to address gender equality

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President, Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), Engineer Dr. Elizabeth J. Eterigho, has said making sure that women have clear policies in place that address gender equality, was one of the ways they can make the workplaces more welcoming for all employees.

Engineer Eterigho stated this on Thursday in her welcome address at the Association’s Stakeholders engagement/policy adoption held at the GRA Ikeja Lagos.

According to her, “This will help ensure that all employees feel like they have a voice at work and can be treated fairly regardless of their gender identity or expression”.

The APWEN President stated that this is important considering the fact that today, “we are in a world where women are still underrepresented in leadership positions”.

“The integration of gender into workplace policies is a crucial step in the effort to achieve equality. Companies need to understand how their policies affect employees and how they can be improved by implementing gender-related features. When people feel like they’re being treated equally, they perform better and are more likely to stay with the company longer.

“These and more are what necessitated the SheEngineer 30% CLUB; promoting greater Gender Parity; “30 by 30” Strategy, which has led to the policy we are looking at today”, she said.

She further said that APWEN with this policy draft recommends creating a culture where everyone feels comfortable raising concerns and asking questions, pointing out that “this kind of transparency creates an environment where every employee can feel like they have a voice, which will hopefully lead them down a path of self-improvement so they can become better leaders within their organizations”.

Engr. Eterigho also said with women making up about 50 per cent of the world’s population and contributing significantly to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP),“their participation in leadership roles is crucial to achieving sustainable development goals”.

Gender is an important part of our lives and workplaces. And while it seems like no one is talking about it, it’s still an issue in the workplace. Some standard policies don’t take into account the fact that women and men have different needs, and these policies can contribute to the continued marginalization of women in male-dominated industries”, she further pointed out.

Stating that gender integration in the workplace was key to creating a safe and respectful work environment,Engr.Eterigho said a growing body of evidence demonstrated a correlation between gender diversity at the executive level and company performance.

In her Concept Note presentation, the Programme Manager, SheEngineer30% Club, Engr. (Dr.) Mrs. Felicia Agubata,  stated that the objective of the Club waa to improve diversity and inclusion in STEM-based organizations and drive profitability, productivity, creativity and reduce skill shortage by encouraging more girls to take up STEM-based careers.

According to Engr. Agubata, the problems the Club is addressing included: Women underrepresentation in the engineering sector and engineering education; Skill shortage exacerbated by underrepresentation; Gender inequalities in engineering education and practice in Nigeria; and Challenges of discrimination, harassments, and victimization of professional female.

The plans of the Club, Dr. Agubata stated are: Data gathering of Aerospace, Automotive and Energy sectors organizations in Lagos; Partnering with employers, policy makers and educators to create an inclusive learning environment; and Get engineering companies to develop a Diversity and Inclusion policy and create SheEngineer30% Club that will be launched to get companies’ commitment to have at least 30% female on board.

Others are: One Week Work Shadowing in Aerospace/Aviation/Energy industries for students in secondary school; Take 10 girls and place them in different engineering departments to ignite their passion and get them set for a possible career in engineering; and Allow them experience different sectors taking cognizance of health and safety issues.

The programme manager also said the Club has the strategies of attracting more women; removing bias in recruitment; puling women through the promotional pipeline; and retaining talented women.

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