IJEOMA ANYIAM-OSIGWE (IAO) is the Co-Convener of the Pride Women Conference. In this interview with Pride Magazine Nigeria (PNG), she speaks on the reason behind the Conference and how she tries to maintain her own emotional well-being. Excerpts:
What influenced you to set up the Pride Women Conference?
The Conference was set up to address issues that affect the mental and emotional health of women. It is a platform to address the various ways in which women have been impacted by the environment they live in. The platform seeks to help women learn how to deal with elements that impact their emotional and mental health. God made male and female in His likeness to live in love and enjoy the beauty of His creation. Why are women abused at home/work sexually, mentally and physically? Why are we denied outright to voice our opinions, to own properties and to have equal pay for the same effort put in? A good number of women live a life of fear, pain, sacrifice and marginalisation. All these have implications for their emotional, mental and physical well-being. The conference seeks to ensure that everyone is aware of these issues and begin to address them so that women can live all-round healthy and fulfilled lives.
You are the Co-Convener of the Conference. Who is your partner on this project?
My husband, Charles Anyiam-Osigwe.
The Motto of the Pride Women Conference is “Emotional Well-Being Is Our Goal”. What informed the choice of this motto?
The Motto captures in one short sentence the essence of the Pride Women Conference.
You held the second edition in May 2018. How did the event go and how do you evaluate that the conference is meeting its objectives?
The event went quite well. The attendance was good. The hall was full. The speakers were very good, they spoke from the heart and shared their experiences without holding back and connected with the audience. The theme of the second edition was “Women: Work, Relationship and Marriage – The Conversation Continues”. Thefirst edition was the beginning of the conversation; it was continued in the second edition and will expand in the third edition. I think it is too early to judge if we are meeting our objectives, but from the feedback received so far, the conference is like an “eureka” moment for women. They are glad that a platform now exists that is openly discussing matters they cope with silently.
How do you choose your speakers for each conference?
It is usually based on experiential knowledge with respect to the subject matter the speaker will address. We also consider a speaker’s professionalism when we are addressing issues that need both expert and experiential knowledge.The date for the 2019 Conference has been set – May 24, 2019 at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos.
Are the speakers for the event already chosen?
No, the choice of speakers is currently a work in progress. We are painstaking when it comes to choosing speakers. Our speakers should be persons that can inspire, teach and help women overcome the issues/feelings weighing them down.
The Pride Women Conference is targetted at women, but do you not think that given your stated objective, which is the emotional well-being of an individual that men could also benefit? If so, shouldn’t the conference be open to both men and women and not begender specific?
The Conference is open to everyone – both women and men. We had a few men in attendance at the last conference. On the 2019 Conference website, we have “Men Specially Invited” boldly stated. So, we are looking forward to a good number of men attending the 2019 Conference. However, our main focus is women because women are more marginalised and discriminated against in our society. They are the ones who face the most abuse – in the home, society and workplace. They are expected to multi-task at home, work and even socially. This is why it is important to begin to address how they can find the right balance between work, home and relationships.
What type of support does the conference receive in terms of finances and in-kind support?
It has not been as much as we would wish. We hope that as we organise forthcoming editions, more people are aware of the conference, and there will be more support both financially and in-kind.
How do you see the conference evolving over the next five years?
I see the conference as one that will be at the forefront of promoting the emotional well-being of women. We hope that in the next five years, the Conference will be widely known, and more importantly it plays a part in helping a lot of women to pay attention to what matters and take steps to improve their mental, physical and emotional well-being.
For a better society