By John Ikani
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) has reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of diversity and gender-inclusive practices in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Wabote made the commitment in his address to the ‘2nd Anniversary of SEPLAT Women Awesome Network (SWAN) in Lagos on Thursday, while urging all organisations to “implement mentorship programs, flexible work arrangements, and other initiatives that will address unconscious biases.”
Engr. Wabote hinted that gender balance and empowerment of women have been major objectives of the United Nations, citing for instance the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, which enjoins governments and organisations to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
He expressed happiness that initiatives of the world body, including the Beijing Conference and Declaration of 1995, have begun to yield results “as women have consistently proven their mettle as diligent, result-oriented” and hardworking.
The NCDMB boss mentioned top political and economic positions around the world, including at Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), which have experienced and benefitted from the exceptional managerial capabilities of women.
While noting that the NCDMB makes deliberate efforts to empower and create opportunities for women to achieve their potential, Engr. Wabote cited the US$20 million Women in Oil and Gas Fund, which is being managed by the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, as well as the Diversity Sectorial Group under the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum (NCCF), established by the Board as specific initiatives targeted at gender inclusion.
“There is also a creche at the Board’s corporate headquarters in Yenagoa to accommodate the needs of nursing mothers,” he added.
Among several events organised in recent times by the NCDMB for women executives in the oil and gas industry was a “Nigerian Women in Oil and Gas Conference” in Lagos in June 2022, and a two-week Entrepreneurship Training Workshop for women business leaders in March/April 2023 in Port Harcourt.
In emphasising the imperative of gender sensitivity in the workplace, Wabote encouraged organizations to evaluate and revise existing policies to ensure they actively promote gender equality.
Continuing, he said, “We should also seek to challenge outdated norms and stereotypes and create a gender-friendly work environment where women will feel valued and respected,” while reminding all that “change is not always top-down process; it starts with the actions of individuals at every level of an organization and society.”
The 2nd Anniversary of SEPLAT Women Awesome Network (SWAN) event themed “Empowered Women 2030 – A Retrospective” was conceived to provide a platform to reflect on women empowerment by the year 2030. It was held at the SEPLAT Energy Head Office, Ikoyi, Lagos.