Chinwe Egwim; Economist, Author and Advocate (Source: Lilian Madu)
Chinwe Egwim is currently the Senior Economist at a leading financial institution in Africa with over 500 published economic notes primarily geared towards macroeconomics. An award-winning economist, a highly sought after thought leader and an Executive Council member of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ). She consistently applies rigorous analysis to ensure Africa’s economic landscape is better understood. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Chinwe talks about her career-path, challenges, the causes close to her heart and Africa’s economy. Excerpt.
Alaba: Could you briefly tell me about your background and career-path?
Chinwe: I always find this question interesting because I’d like to think of myself as dynamic and so a succinct description may be difficult to achieve but I will try my best. I am an unapologetic goal-getter, consistently seeking ways to push boundaries and a firm believer of living a purpose-driven life. I also happen to be an Economist with specialization in Macro and Development Economics. I currently work at FBNQuest Merchant Bank (a subsidiary of FBN Holdings) as the Senior Economist.
My role as an economist is refreshing as it gives me an opportunity to critically analyse macroeconomic trends (growth, inflation, reserves, policy rate, oil prices, national account, and trade activities amongst others) for business, policy and investment decision purposes. I currently have well over 500 economic notes under my belt, multiple economic research reports and I have led the analysis of several Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reports among others. Aside from contributing to the advancement of my firm, I offer recommendations to public office holders as well as investment and economic strategy advice to business owners.
Outside my position as the Senior Economist at FBNQuest, I have engaged in high-level projects which align properly with my career trajectory. On the back of my extensive knowledge on market insights and ability to actively engage multilaterals, government and sub-nationals, I was appointed as a National Consultant by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; where I led the services trade project partly driven by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Furthermore, my contributions have also supported notable committees’ setup by development agencies like the World Bank.
I kicked-off my career as an economist in the fiscal analysis division of the research department at the Central Bank of Nigeria (Abuja HQRS). However, I have spent the larger part of my career as a professional economist in the private sector.
Alaba: Why Economics and what sparked the interest?
Chinwe: To be honest, before securing my second degree in Economics I was not completely sure on how I would like to apply myself as an economist. The spark came during my first professional stint as an economist. I must also highlight that proper and well-appreciated guidance from my father contributed to this spark. I also gained mentorship very early and this assisted with my increased interest in economics. It also unlocked the different ways I could excel in my career as an economist.
Additionally, through volunteering activities, I discovered my flare for social impact and the interlinkages it has with macro, financial and development economics. Furthermore, my passion for economics was strengthened when I realised, I could use it as a tool to shape conversations that assist decision-makers and stimulate actionable steps for relevant impact.
Alaba: How has your purpose, mission and values shaped your journey thus far?
I personally believe that life is not just about you as a person, fulfillment for me comes from helping the next person or largely contributing to initiatives that positively impact others; this forms a significant portion of my value-system and is at the center of most of my decisions. I am deliberate with using my role as an economist to add value to my organisation which by extension, is contributing to development via the financial services industry. I am also intentional about working beyond my desk. Therefore, you are very likely to see me offering my expertise to specific impact-driven projects within and outside my current industry.
Alaba: What have you sacrificed for your professional journey? Any regrets?
Chinwe: Interesting question. I will say a lot of play or travel and leisure activities and this is not just due to limited time on the back of increased focus on work but mainly due to channeling financial resources towards tools and resources needed to equip and strengthen me as I climb my career ladder. The opportunity cost has been well worth it and so, no regrets. I also believe that life is in seasons. There are times when laser focus on building and climbing is required and other times when fun, play and ample relaxation can be done with no guilt.
Alaba: As a female executive, kindly share some of your biggest challenges, biases and learning curves?
Chinwe: Well, this is no longer a current issue for me. However, earlier in my career, being the only female or in some cases, one of the very few females in an industry meeting or engagement was somewhat challenging as asserting my voice and making relevant contributions in a relatively loud room was a struggle. I quickly nipped this challenge in the bud. The antidote – ample and very extensive preparation before every external meeting or engagement and understanding that you tastefully seize as many opportunities to contribute/ speak as opposed to waiting for a microphone toss which rarely happens.
As for biases, I will share that the narrative of being ambitious is not a feminine trait stuck with me to an extent, but I am glad that I didn’t let it linger and I was able to get past it early in my career. There is also the narrative of successful career women being aggressive as opposed to assertive. It is good to see that these biases are gradually being phased out.
Alaba: How can women leverage on sponsorship and mentorship to achieve the success they want in their business and career, especially in male-dominated industry?
Chinwe: I have personally gained a lot from being a mentee to strong leaders within and outside my industry such as sharpening my technical skills. I have also been given opportunities to add value to high level projects, exposed to opportunities that have had a direct impact on my career progression, built very strong networks and strengthened my CV. But let me just say this, understand that the onus is on you as a mentee to make this relationship effective. You must be able to communicate value to your prospective mentor and have a sense of direction. Also, you must understand that time is a luxury for many and so every mentor-mentee meetup should be utilised properly.
I have a few mentees that were paired with me through mentorship camps or programs. A few examples are WIMBIZ Mentorship program and the Leading Ladies Africa mentorship camp. When you are paired with a mentor, dynamics are a bit different. My advice is to find ways to build organic relationships with your mentor while you both progress during the mentorship scheme. It should be a symbiotic relationship.
It is also worth considering peer mentorship. This allows you learn from your peers. Nobody knows it all and so we should all be willing to adopt this style of mentoring as well. Through peer mentorship, I gain fresh perspectives that enable me to do better at work and I also usually get first-hand knowledge on industry related matters which is good for me, especially for my role as a senior economist in the banking and finance industry.
Alaba: As a senior economist with a leading financial institution in Africa. What is your take on the impact of the global pandemic (COVID-19) in Africa?
Chinwe: So far, Africa has been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic in terms of cases and deaths, but its economy has not been so lucky, especially the poorer, smaller countries dependent on a single resource or sector. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated existing macroeconomic weaknesses – reflected in high ‘twin deficits, rising public debt and soaring inflation in the majority of sub-Saharan African countries. Private capital flows, including foreign direct investment (FDI) and portfolio investment flows, were at historical lows and remittance inflows to Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to shrink.
Of course, in Africa it is a case of different countries, different impact. So, what do I mean by this?
- For diversified economies – such as Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ghana in West Africa and then Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in East Africa, activity has slowed significantly but they are still managing to grow according to the IMF.
- Meanwhile, oil exporters such as Algeria, Angola and Nigeria suffered significantly from the plunge in crude oil prices, especially in the earlier months of the crisis. For oil exporting countries in Africa their collective GDP expanded by 1.5% in 2019. However, this is expected to decline by over -4%, due to contractions in Angola and Nigeria.
- Now as for tourism-dependent countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and the Seychelles, they have experienced sharp contractions as downturns in international tourism severely impacted the services sector.
Again, the picture is mixed when it comes to how different countries manage debt and raise fresh funds. On one hand, there is Zambia, which is heavily dependent on mining and became the first country to default on its debt last year, while Ivory Coast later easily raised funds on the market through a Eurobond issuance in November 2020; it was about the equivalent of USD1.19bn and it was five times oversubscribed. Since then, the financial markets have found their appetite for risk again, and especially for African debt, but investors remain cautious. Another important source of funds for African countries is remittances from their foreign workers and inevitably this has also suffered due to the pandemic.
Now let me shed some light on banks – African central banks were resilient in 2020 compared with central banks across countries in other continents. Central banks, in a coordinated effort with fiscal authorities have used expansionary monetary policy in the form of increased money supply through traditional, open-market operations as well as quantitative easing. Some central banks have used their monetary flexibility to promptly lower interest rates by c.300 basis points (bps), as we saw at the Central Bank of Egypt, while others have adopted a more gradual approach, like the South African Reserve Bank’s trimming of 275 bps between March to May of last year. All central banks have been attempting to calibrate their actions with government fiscal support measures while preserving their inflation targets. Another tool that central banks are deploying is macro-financial assistance, which comprises medium/long-term loans or grants to businesses or households given the pre-existing difficulties for many with accessing loans from banks.
Alaba: Do you think Africa can fully recover from the economic consequence of the pandemic? If yes, How?
Chinwe: Africa is expected to rebound in 2021 with growth varying across countries. Many African countries have seized the opportunity within the crisis to move faster on necessary reforms and investments that will be crucial for long-term development. However, concerns of a second wave are fueling further uncertainty. In such context, the road to recovery will be long and will require policies and investments that focus on connecting people to job opportunities, which can help end extreme poverty, particularly post COVID-19. In a time of lockdowns and social distancing, investing in the digital economy and infrastructure will also be crucial to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and foster a sustained recovery.
Alaba: What causes are closest to your heart?
Chinwe: Economic and Financial literacy, inclusion, gender equality and youth Empowerment.
Alaba: How do you unplug and manage your work-life balance?
Chinwe: Binge on feel-good tv series. As often as possible, I try to get uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep. I try to take walks as often as possible and vacations are also a must -have.
Alaba: If you were a brand, you would be like? Why?
Chinwe: I consider myself as a brand. However, I will take a stab at answering this question. So, Nike is my answer. Nike embodies overcoming of one’s limitations, the pursuit of a mission or calling. This brand is about realizing one’s full potential, taking down barriers, being brave, bold, hardworking and resiliently moving forward, hence the “Just Do It”. It evokes fundamental values needed to thrive. Therefore, it strongly resonates with me and my personal brand.
Alaba: Your top picks to read, watch and listen?
Chinwe: To read
- Understanding Economic “Jargon” by Chinwe Egwim – I authored this book to help its readers stay economically alert and serve as a guide with regards to navigating the macroeconomic landscape. Especially, for those that are keen on staying ahead.
- The “Girl” of Entrepreneurs by Ibukun Awosika – This book is incredibly amazing. It has been my travel companion for years. The book documents the experiences of African businesswomen in terms of their background, their start-up stage, their growth pattern, their challenges, the impact of choices of spouse on their business as well as their work-life balance.
- A-Z of Personal Finance by Nimi Akinkugbe – An awesome book that helps you stay woke with your personal finance. The book provides you with important practical information and useful tips on matters concerning you and your money. Every emerging leader should have this book in their book collection.
- Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up, Or Start authored by Carla Harris – This book has served as a blueprint for me with regards to navigating my career path. It offers new ways to conceptualize career strategies and gives proven tools for successful change.
- The Last Dance. A documentary that chronicles the rise of Michael Jordan. There are so many career and life lessons to learn from this documentary. A few of them are: you have to start somewhere; to win, you must hold yourself accountable; a great team can make all the difference; play to your strengths; sometimes, you have to take a break and recharge and you need to find your motivation.
- Life in BLOOM with Tosin Durotoye Podcast
- The WIMBIZ Choose to Challenge Podcast
- The Smart Money Tribe by Arese Ugwu Podcast
- The Women Who Transcend Podcast
- Porsha4Real with Porsha Williams Podcast
B I O G R A P H Y
Chinwe Egwim is currently the Senior Economist at a leading financial institution in Africa with over 500 published economic notes primarily geared towards macroeconomics. She consistently applies rigorous analysis to ensure Africa’s economic landscape is better understood.
Chinwe is an advocate for women empowerment and a firm believer of equipping disadvantaged women with tools to enable them to thrive. In 2020, Chinwe was appointed as an Executive Council Member of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ). She has received multiple recognition and awards for her work as an Economist. Some of which include:the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD), 100 most inspiring Nigerian women by Leading Ladies Africa, the Corporate Nigeria PowerList under 40 and also a leading woman in banking by the Association of Professional Women Bankers. Chinwe was nominated by Future Awards Africa and won the HER Network Career Woman of the Year in 2018.
Chinwe authored a book titled, Understanding Economic “Jargon”. The book uses a simple approach to breakdown how economic indicators and the investment climate react to economic shocks and upswings. It has ranked as a bestseller on Amazon.
How Darlyn Okojie Solved Cross-Border Transactions With An Expanding Business
Darlyn Okojie, Founder at Rugs and Floors (Image: Supplied)
Darlyn Okojie has never been a big dreamer, however, she is a strong believer in the power of hard work and sheer grit. “If I could think it then I could do it’’. Her personality has also made her realise that she loved being around smart people, especially those that inspire me to do more,.
Daryln has a friend who is a co-founder of an organization with operations in four African countries. In December 2020, he visited her and she was so excited about her growth and all she had accomplished with Rugs and Floors (at this time it was just Rugs and Floors Lagos). Darlyn showed him her books, but his reply was shocking. He asked her a barrage of questions e,g Can you produce your own rugs now? What would it take for you to supply outside Nigeria? Can you brand and customise rugs now? What makes you different from everyone else? How do you plan to expand? What’s your target for next year?
His question made her realize that although she had achieved a lot, there were still a myriad of opportunities to explore. She then listed all the questions he had asked, and it gave her a clear version of what she could accomplish. So she started doing her market research, studying different markets and ways to expand my business. A few months after the fateful conversation, Darlyn travelled to Kenya and then Turkey and started exploring the international market and her supply chain. As she started expanding her base, new challenges started arising. By the time she had expanded to a new market, she met her biggest challenge yet: cross-country payments.
Darlyn started off by dealing with the local money changers in these countries, which meant she had to go through the strenuous process of changing Naira to Dollars and Dollars to the local currency. Then, November 2021, she heard about Wise from a friend for the first time and decided to try them out. However, due to restrictions on forex made by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she couldn’t even open the account until she was out of the country. But as soon as she was out of the country, she opened a Wise account and it was life-changing for her as well as Rugs and Floors Africa and Memo Africa.
Wise allowed her to open 10 local accounts in different countries and she could perform transactions in various currencies including, British pounds, Euro, US dollar, Australian dollar and Turkish lira. Any business owner knows that handling finance is quite tasking, and conducting transactions across borders is hell. You can never predict the conversion rate.
International Women’s Day 2022: The BAO 30 Inspiring Women On Breaking The Bias
In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022, Business Africa Online (BAO) hosts 30 Inspiring Women #BreakingTheBias. These 30 Inspiring Women were selected across different industries to speak on this year’s IWD 2022 theme #BreakingTheBias. And also to share how they are Standing Out and Standing Up. Excerpt.
“International Women’s Day is a timely reminder of the progress made over the past few decades around the advancement of women and improving gender parity. The day is also an opportunity to remind each other of the work that still needs to be done to realise the global goal of gender equality.” Read More.
“As an entrepreneur I am always happy to tell my story and the barriers I face every time, and how I overcome them. Like they say “Your story is your strength and be shameless about the hustle “. Office furniture manufacturing is expected to be a male dominated industry but I thrive very well and pounding the ground even harder than the men…” Read More
“Gender-balanced leadership is essential for inclusive economic development, societal advancement and the sustainability of our planet. Whilst women and men make great leaders, women face systemic barriers – from unconscious bias to cultural constraints and negative perceptions. We need to #BreakThatBias for the well-being of mankind. Happy International Women’s Day!”
“International Women’s Day is a day to acknowledge, honour and celebrate women around the world across every level of society, for the contributions they make each day to society. Women as mothers, wives, CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, board members and everything in between. This year’s theme of #BreakingTheBias is a perfect way to remind society of the unconscious biases that still exist in society and the uphill struggle women have to face everyday to have a voice and to be heard. At Aruwa Capital we are very excited to be breaking this bias by having more women as capital allocators and empowering the next generation of female entrepreneurs by encouraging women to create their own tables rather than asking for a seat.”
“I AM WOMAN BY EMMY MELI”.
This song is a reminder to what we are as women, what I am as a woman, and despite all the beat down we get we keep rising, we keep winning, and with every stone thrown, we build up. Read More
“With female entrepreneurship on the rise globally, it is no surprise that Africa boasts one of the highest regional proportions of female entrepreneurs, where 1 in 4 women run their own business. We can visibly see evidence of this in our daily lives.” Read More
“We grow up in societies where we are made to believe that a girl child cannot do some of the things. We get into the classrooms where different systems exist to say a girl child cannot do certain subjects. In the workplace, there are still positions that women cannot occupy. May we be the generation whose decisions are not biased because of gender. May we never discriminate against HER because she is a woman. May we be the generation that champion and create environments that break the bias toward women. Let us #BreakTheBias, it is everyone’s responsibility.”
“We are in 2022 and still asking for a world that is free of bias, discrimination and stereotypes. Clearly, there is some resistance for this not to have already happened. We know that half the sky is held up by women. So why can’t we live in an inclusive world by elevating women’s visibility instead of having us predominantly hidden?’ We all need to take action to #BreakTheBias and question society and demand more from them. We must break the bias and increase access to equity, safety, justice and recognition for every woman. We must not only celebrate every aspect of the social, economic and political achievements of women, every single day. But we must campaign for equality and openly call out gender bias. We must #BreakTheBias NOW.”
I was 16 and just gained admission into the University. My brother who was a year older was already in University. I could not wait to join him but a shadow was cast over my dreams. My father could not afford our fees. The advice when he went to borrow money from a good friend was, “let your daughter stay back. She will only get married anyway.” Well my Dad did not take the advice. Dad trudged on stoically and with his sacrifice and that of my dear Mother, my brother and I graduated. Dr. Henry Udueni- after a 3rd degree in the UK, sadly passed. I went on to my 2nd degree, started a 3rd and I’m here. I have the piviledge of seeing the joy and gratitude in my Dad’s eyes that he did not hold me back. To build inclusive environments, safe spaces for all to thrive, to break barriers and provide equal opportunity for growth, takes vision and true commitment. It takes my Dad. #BreakingTheBias
“I’m excited about the #BreakingTheBias campaign because I believe that the first step to breaking bias is consciousness. A lot of bias is unconscious and you cannot break a habit you don’t even know exists. This campaign is a great start to shining a light on various elements of bias impacting women across domains. It’s only then that we can do something to change it. Happy International Women’s Day!”.
“Regardless of gender, International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 is a beautiful moment to reflect on and celebrate the strides made in women empowerment globally. However, gender biases and stereotypes remain deeply ingrained in our families, homes, societies and organizations, influencing the way we see and treat our girls and women”. Read More
In celebrating International Women’s Day and reflecting on #BreakingTheBias as a career coach it is natural that I consider the workplace. I think of biases like female bosses are terrible or that women have glass ceilings and at times even glass cliffs. Read More
This International Women’s Day commemoration is another wonderful opportunity to celebrate women the world over. In the last one year, Read More
Feeling like an Elephant trapped in the body of an Ant, having great potential without the architecture, strategy or replication structure to actualize it; I spent my formative years seeing women give up Read More
“I operate at the intersection of democratising capital to African female founders. Designing the impact of that capital and ensuring that women (and small businesses) are funnelled to the top through strategic partnerships. This year’s International Women’s Day theme #BreakingTheBias is a way to highlight the opportunities available to enable women to break the bias. And to connect them to enablers of these ecosystems who have (and continue to) trail brazed. Network(ing) is one of the currencies you can give women to trade equitably. It is a long road ahead to ultimately break the bias that’s been tapestried onto women’s capabilities. But days like IWD and publications like Business Africa Online (BAO), continue to mark the necessary evil of the work that is being and has to be done”.
#BreakingTheBias – This theme resonates with me so deeply because we all deserve a seat at the table. It does not stop there, we also deserve the right for our voices to be respectfully heard in and out of the boardroom. Read More
I could easily swap my book title Mum, Find Love Again for #BreakTheBias. The inherent messages are so in sync that I feel opportune to have launched my book this year. Ageism, sexism, inequalities, racism, abuse, are all steeped in biases. Biases remain the leading root cause of non-inclusion, and therefore sit at the heart of a sustainable gender equity strategy. Progress in gender equity, progress in attaining women’s rights over the coming decades will be contingent on how much progress is made. In dismantling unconscious biases and nuances that drive unequal behaviors and societies.
Affirmative action and increased access to education will provide more women with economic security and opportunity. Yet, these women will continue to contend with traditions, lifestyles and faith systems that entrench biases. As we #BreakTheBias, we redefine culture and shape a new meaning of life and living. I am excited to be alive in these times. I am more excited for a future where #BreakTheBias will no longer be necessary.
As an African and Muslim woman who moved to the United States at 20 years of age and immediately joined the United States Army. I understand the bias I carried with me into a foreign land and the military. Everyday, questioning myself given my background. Read More
International Women’s day is a day to reflect and take account of our progress as Women. Celebrating Women from every work of life and culture. With a special emphasis on #BreakingTheBias, that as women, we face everyday. Enjoying our femininity and embracing our power, knowing that every obstacle that stands in our way can be overcome. Standing up Tall, Proud and as Equals in our own rights with no Bias and barriers to keep us from our goals.
“We live in an imperfect world and the sooner we understand that the better. We can start working on how to improve and one area that we need to focus is to remove the bias against women. Women have traditionally been viewed as the weaker sex. We have more men as Presidents, Vice Presidents, CEOs of companies and Members of Parliament than women. This needs to change. Women have the power, potential and prowess to excel in any role. More women should be considered for roles in top leadership. It’s time to break the bias.”
This year’s theme is “Break The Bias.” It’s goal is to help us “imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.” So, Read More
I look forward to a world that is truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Women are so powerful when we choose to step into the fullness of our strengths and capabilities. And we have got to create a more enabling environment for women to do just that. We must empower and encourage more women to show up, speak up and show forth.
Women must also begin to take the plunge and show up where it matters. We need more women to take their place everywhere, with skills as their superpower. The world is more beautiful when we all show up and work together. The outcome is indeed unfathomable when we all, no matter race, gender or social class, can show up in our truest, empowered form.
We must realise that different persons have different circumstances and require different resources and opportunities to BECOME. We must choose to fix the playing field and #breakthebias. We all have a role to play in creating the bias-free world we desire, from schools, to workplaces, to politics, to entrepreneurship. I choose to EMPOWER women. I choose to #BreakTheBias. Do you?
I am a woman who is fearless and unbelievably strong. There are so many forces that work against Black female entrepreneurs. Access to capital and support is the biggest piece. Society can make things extremely difficult for Black female professional/business owners in different ways such as being labelled “unpromotable” because of who you are not which has nothing to do with your skills or maliciously cancelling a business contract which is well planned out. Against all odds, Black women are strong, smart and have the ability to wither the storm and come out stronger and more successful.
Advice to Black women
- Never cry or worry about the past. Just focus on what you want to achieve
- Always remember that those that really want you to win, will always find a way to help you win without excuses.
- Keep in mind that you’re built differently.
As the founder of B4brand, a storytelling-driven marketing agency based in Toronto, Canada, breaking unconscious bias in marketing and advertising is a commitment to create truly diverse and inclusive content from an authentic voice that resonates with the audience. This goes far beyond simply using diverse imagery and brands must challenge existing stereotypes and biases to do better in order to build genuine connections with their audience. –
Imagine a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, a world where difference is valued and celebrated. Where we collectively #BreakTheBias.There are key terms used. Conscious and unconscious bias. The term “unconscious bias” describes our tendency to classify others through characteristics that are not valid. We can break the bias in our communities, workplaces, schools, colleges and universities. As we celebrate women this year, breaking bias is limited to our mental attention and we can all #breakconsious and unconscious bias towards our women.
This year’s International Women’s day theme: #BreakingTheBias is really important for me as a black women and also the #BeMe digital inclusion program of raising one million females aspiration in Science Technology engineering math related careers. Read More
Individually, I think we’re all responsible for the way we think and the way we behave – all day, every day. As women, it’s high time to let go of the stereotypical and societal beliefs that we have clung onto which is limiting our impact in society and the world at large. Change is the only thing that remains to be constant, with reference to this year’s theme as we commemorate International Women’s Day – 2022, I believe we can break bias in our communities, workplaces, schools, universities and all works of life. We just need to make conscious efforts in order for us to move ahead and level the playing field.
This year’s international women’s day theme, #BreakingTheBias is a significant one. Why? Because for as long as I can remember, there has always been one, or in some cases, several bias against women. Read More
We are a human force that nurtures and uplifts the world. Let us not wait to be hailed for our grace, courage and determination. As Talleyrand aptly said, “Where so many men have failed, a woman can succeed. Therefore, let’s break the prejudices and stereotypes, let’s be masters of our destiny because there’s a bigger dream for us #BreakTheBias
Women can move mountains when they work together to support each other, co-create and give everyone the opportunity to take a step further towards attaining set goals. Unfortunately, this is often overlooked. An inclusive society where women feel at home just like men in key roles and decision-making positions, at the level of access to institutions and finance will go a long way to ensure this.
Lisa Hurley Strikes a Pose, Speaks on International Women’s Day 2022 Theme: Break The Bias
Lisa Hurley shares her thoughts with Business Africa Online (BAO) on this year’s IWD 2022 theme: #BreakingTheBias.
“I was a feminist before I even fully knew what the word meant. I was always that child who challenged “the way things are,” asked difficult questions, and pushed back. So as a lifelong feminist, of course I support International Women’s Day and everything it stands for. It celebrates and amplifies women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements around the globe. The day is also meant to shine a light on gender inequality, and to magnify the focus on increasing gender parity.
This year’s theme is “Break The Bias.” Its goal is to help us “imagine a gender-equal world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”
But as I scroll through the International Women’s Day coverage, I feel concerned. As a marketer, I appreciate the power of a compelling visual; of a movement to rally behind, so one part of me loves the #BreakTheBias photos that people are posting with their arms crossed in front of them.
However, the other part of me feels like I’ve seen this before, particularly as relates to socio-political movements of this kind. Women, Black people, and other marginalized communities are offered Black squares on #BlackoutTuesday, as well as:
- Pink merchandise instead of actual legislation.
- BLM murals instead of actual police reform.
- Rainbow capitalism instead of actual grassroots support.
It feels distressingly performative.
Don’t get me wrong, visual signals matter. Being seen and represented matters. Changing the literal and figurative landscape matters. But we must be vigilant about not becoming complacent, and being satisfied with implementing this (arguably) easier aspect of activism.
So, on this International Women’s Day, I invite you to absolutely strike a pose. But I remind us all that after that, we must actually do the work. We can pose, and we can post, but we must also make sure that women are safe, are seen, are paid equitably, and more. The work is the path forward to help us #BreakTheBias.
Lisa Hurley is a writer, speaker, and activist whose work focuses on anti-racism, texturism, and destigmatizing introversion. She is also a passionate advocate for inclusion, equity, and gender equality. Lisa is the Editor-At-Large of Linked Inclusion™, co-host of Real Talk on Racism, co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast, and a member of the Black Speakers Collection. She has been quoted in Forbes, Essence, and Fast Company, is a contributing writer for No White Saviors, and was selected as one of pocstock’s The Future of Black America Top 50 Leaders for 2022. Lisa is always interested in sharing meaningful conversations! Feel free to connect with her on social media.