By Sinatu Aderoju Ojikutu

Despite the overwhelming, depressing and discouraging negative news from the spheres of politics, economy, security and the deepening of poverty in a country that is specially blessed with both human and natural resources, it is with great honour and humility that I stand before you today, on this auspicious occasion of the installation of the 25th national president of Soroptimist International of Nigeria Association (SINA). I am aware SINA is a global non-governmental volunteer organisation that is committed to improving the lives of women and girls through various programmes leading to their social and economic empowerment. I commend you all for being warriors in actively engaging in various advocacy and empowerment activities to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Women are the most vulnerable group and the efforts of SINA and other similar organisations must be supported and encouraged.

As we gather here to celebrate this milestone, my speech entitled “Empowering Women for Ethical Leadership: A Call to Action”, I wish to remind us of the immense responsibility entrusted upon us as women leaders, to advocate for change, promote ethical leadership and inspire the next generation of women to rise above the challenges they face in a world dominated by patriarchal structures.

Championing Integrity in Leadership: In a society riddled with corruption and unethical practices, it is imperative that we, as women leaders, take a stand against such injustices. We must not succumb to the temptation to emulate the bad and corrupt practices often associated with men in positions of political power. Instead, let us lead by example, with integrity and honesty, showing the world that women are capable of ethical leadership. We must highlight the importance of transparency, accountability, and good governance in all aspects of leadership.

It is sad that some women who have been entrusted with position of power have disappointed of recent by succumbing to a culture of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of society. We must correct this narrative and every woman in leadership must be shining example of ethical standard and moral uprightness.

Balancing Firmness with Compassion: As leaders and followers, we must be firm in our convictions and principles, but we must also be humane in our approach. Let us not forget the power of empathy and compassion in fostering unity and understanding among our peers. By embracing these qualities, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate society, where the voices of the marginalized are heard, and their rights are upheld. We must embrace sisterhood ethos where we encourage ourselves to grow and flourish rather than engaging in unhealthy competition, which often leads to destruction of hopes, growth and aspiration of fellow women in politics or even in corporate environment.

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Celebrating Gender Equality in Leadership: While it is true that opposites attract, we must not allow gender stereotypes to dictate our perception of leadership. Women are just as capable as men in positions of authority, and we must not abhor our gender in positions of power. Instead, let us celebrate the diversity and unique perspectives that women bring to leadership roles, and advocate for gender equality in all spheres of society.

Harnessing the Power of Motherhood for Nation-Building: As the mothers of the earth, our very makeup prioritizes us for multitasking. Let us harness this innate ability to juggle multiple responsibilities for the greater good of our nation. Whether it be in the boardroom or the classroom, let us lead with compassion, wisdom and resilience, knowing that our efforts are laying the foundation for a brighter future for generations to come.

Breaking Stereotypes Through Innovative Leadership: It is time for us to put on our thinking caps and challenge the status quo. Let us break free from the stereotyped ways of leadership and embrace innovation, creativity and diversity in our approach. By thinking outside the box and pushing the boundaries of what is possible, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and progressive society.

Conclusion: In conclusion, as we embark on this journey of leadership, let us remember the words of Margaret Mead, who said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Together, we have the power to effect positive change, to inspire greatness, and to leave a lasting legacy of empowerment for future generations of women leaders. Let us rise to the occasion with courage, determination and grace, knowing that the future of our nation depends on our collective efforts to lead with integrity, compassion, and vision.

Finally, I commend the entire members of Soroptimist International of Nigeria Association for your good works despite the obvious challenges of undertaking such enormous tasks of fundraising, advocacy, empowerment while maintaining best practices such as accountability and transparency. I also thank the newly installed 25th president and other elected officials as well as the entire members for the opportunity to chair this occasion and express my views. Thank you.

• Mrs. Ojikutu, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, delivered this speech as chairperson at the installation of the 25th national president of Soroptimist International of Nigeria Association, in Lagos

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