John Wesley and Charles Wesley were amongst the greatest men who ever walked on the surface of this earth. They were revolutionary British evangelists, leaders, teachers and prolific writers of towering reputation with hundreds of published writings to their credits.
These two brothers became who they were because of the discipline and training given to them by their determined mother, Susanna Wesley. She was a mother of 10 children who, amidst debilitating poverty, dedicated her whole life towards educating and disciplining her children.
If it wasn’t for Susanna Wesley’s foresight, sacrifice, and consummate determination, the world might not have had the blessing of these two legendary people whose writings are still blessing millions of people across the world many centuries after.
Let’s take a brief look at some incredible women in our home country, Nigeria. Many people can remember how long the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) existed on a low profile since its establishment by General Ibrahim Babangida in January, 1993. It was the coming of Late Prof. Dora Akunyili as the Director General of that organization in 2001 that brought NAFDAC to limelight. Before then, Nigeria was losing many people due to the activities of some criminals who were making millions of naira from fake, adulterated and poisonous drugs. When late Professor Dora Akunyili assumed the leadership of that organization, those heartless criminals knew no more rest, because they were getting arrested and their evil ventures were getting crushed. Severally Prof. Dora’s life was threatened, but she did not relent. In no time NAFDAC became a household name not only in Nigeria, but the world over and no one was in doubt what NAFDAC stood for.
Although they are very few in numbers, Nigeria has been blessed with some incredibly talented women who have been blazing the trails in their chosen fields not only in Nigeria but internationally too.
Dr. Ngozie Okonjo Iweala, Nigeria’s former Finance and Coordinating Minister is a woman of towering international repute. Before taking up ministerial appointed in Nigeria in 2011, she was Managing Director of World Bank Group from December 1, 2007. Ngozie’s works earned her respect both at home and abroad. Her service is always sought after all around the world.
Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili is a founding Director of Transparency International. She was Vice President of World Bank (Africa Region). She is another woman who has proven that a woman has what it takes, and even more, to deliver unassailable service to mankind, making the world a better place for all to live in.
These, by no means, are an exhaustive list. There are many women in different fields of endeavour in Nigeria doing great things both at home and abroad.
Is anyone still in doubt that women are invaluable assets to the world?
Although women are not immune to corruption or other human frailties that have bedeviled our leadership for time immemorial, when a real woman sets her mind to do something, she does it with consummate focus, determination, courage and sincerity of purpose. Women are generally less distracted by frivolities than men are when it comes to their work and management of resources.
I believe that the progress being made by most developed countries of the world is because they have considerable number of women in various, critical leadership positions.
Obviously, any nation that is desirous of meaningful, sustainable development has got to appreciate what enormous resource women are and take deliberate steps towards having them in leadership positions.
This is evident in the various attempts across the world to level up the playing ground for women in politics and other leadership roles. This and many other reasons are the inspiration behind the setting up of Miss Gbagyi Nigeria beauty pageant, which celebrates beauty in our culture.
For the avoidance of doubt, let’s look at one African country that does not only understand the importance of having women in politics, but took deliberate steps towards making it a reality in their country.
Rwanda, a country that began rising from the debris of gruesome genocide that left almost a million people dead just over two decades ago, is indisputably shining the light of hope across the horizon of Africa. That beautiful country stands to be a model for Africa’s growth and development. Is it because their current president, Paul Kagame, is a political or administrative genius?
The Rwandan’s constitution demands that one third of members of parliament (MPs) must be female. In her 2010 article, Mary Fitzgerald wrote that until the global economic downturn, Rwanda was, ‘enjoying double digit GDP growth; even in 2009 its economy grew by 5.5 per cent. It’s frequently rated the best country in the region for doing business, the least affected by corruption. The streets are clean, crime is low, and much of this success is due to the government’s dogged determination to force change: to shed traditional hierarchies, and, among other things, to actively battle gender discrimination.’
Let’s check some quick facts by UN Women: ‘In the 1990s women made up an average of 18 percent of Rwandan Parliament members. The 2003 Rwandan Constitution set a quota of 30 per cent women parliament members. After the 2008 elections in Rwanda, women made up 56 per cent of parliament. The number jumped to 64 percent after the 2013 elections.’
Affirmative Action (A.A) is a policy that demands increased educational and employment opportunities to the underrepresented part of a society based on colour, race, sex or religion. Concerning women, the policy demands that at least 35 % of them be involved in all governance processes.
As a ratified member of the United Nations, ours in Nigeria is the national gender policy which was formulated since 2006, but not really practiced. For instance in 2015 we had only 8 (6.4 per cent) women in the Senate and 14 (7.2 per cent) women in the House of Representatives. Let’s not even talk about 2019.
However, my point here is that, while reasonable representation of women in Nigerian politics seems like levelling Mount Kilimanjaro with a tea spoon, it is very possible to achieve such, when we are united in our determination to change our political space. It starts with a few deliberate steps, no matter how small or shaky. And that is the charity that we, at Miss Gbagyi Nigeria, are beginning from home.
One of our cardinal objectives, among other things, is to teach our girl child and women the priceless value of humility, dignity, acquisition of knowledge and selfless service to humanity which, no doubt, are the basic ideal of progressive political participation.
While teaching them to cherish and showcase our tradition and culture, we inspire them for self-development that can prepare them for tomorrow’s challenge as they work towards making the world a better place in their various capacities, using their various talents and resources.
We are determined to replicate the Dr. Okonjo Iwealas, Eze kwesilis, Prof. Dora Akunyilis and even Ellen Johnson Sirleafs of this world in our Gbagyi girls and women. We want them prepared to be governors, National Assembly members and visionary leaders across all walks of life.
From the first day on camp, to when our queens emerge winners from our annual contest, they are immediately taught, enlightened, inspired, guided and challenged to develop programmes that will enable them impact lives around them. We encourage them to identify the needs of certain communities and work out plans to meet them, especially that which will challenge and inspire other girl-child.
Queen Faith Adayilo Philip emerged Miss Gbagyi Nigeria 2016. Since then she looks at life from a different paradigm. In 2016 she founded an organization called Adayilo Foundation which aims to encourage women not only to be self-employed, but to be job creators. Through her foundation, she also identifies girls and women who seemed to have lost their direction in life due to premarital pregnancy and child-birth so as to give them hope and show them a way to overcome such past mistakes of their lives. She said her Foundation had carried out 32 outreaches so far, where they educated, enlightened and supported such girls and women towards making a fresh start in their lives.
Our maiden Queen, Shekwoyemi Vyanyilo Bawa is working on a television programme aimed at encouraging and inspiring the girl child to pursue education and general knowledge.
It is with all humility and pleasure that we wish to point out one of our 2018 contestants, Queen Abigail Adamu, who later emerged as Miss Niger. She was recently appointed Special Assistant (SA) special duty to Suleja Local Government Chairman. That is the kind of fruits Miss Gbagyi Nigeria desires to produce through our pageantry and other activities. It is one step at a time that the journey of greatness begins. That is the kind of beauty we celebrate. That is the kind of culture we promote.