International Women’s Day 2024

Empowering Women – Bridging the Gender Gap in The Workforce Through Investment and Innovation

Rita’s knees dropped to the ground as soon as her grandmother delivered the news.

At that moment, life was meaningless, and she longed to die with her father. She was all that was left of the Briggs family –her mother died during childbirth.

About 19 years ago, Mrs. Briggs had gone into early labour while volunteering as a doctor in a rural area. She started bleeding but was able to birth the child. However, the baby was premature. Unfortunately, there were no incubators, the baby, and mother died.

Rita intended to build a solar-powered incubator so that babies could have a chance at life. At first, it seemed unrealistic, but her father made her see reasons to push forward. She made him promise to pitch it to his bosses because she lacked the confidence.

“You should pitch it yourself.” He insisted.

Grief stricken, Rita abandoned the project after her father’s death. However, memories of her father and mother gave her strength to continue. Fate was in consonance, an opportunity to pitch arose when she got a call from Woodwork Tech.

“Am I on to Rita Briggs?” The voice at the other end asked.

“Yes, please. How can I help you?”

“Your ongoing project. Your father told me you would love to pitch it.”

Her eyes widened, “you know about it?”


“Please, who exactly am I speaking with?” Rita asked.

“Brendan Foster, Director of Talent and Innovations. We could use talents like you at Woodwork.”

“I can’t help you out.” She blurted. “It’s not even ready.”

“Your project will help many babies in different communities.” Mr. Foster pleaded. “Why don’t you drop by the office tomorrow and let’s have a chat.”

The next day, she went to Woodwork for a meeting and discovered she was to pitch to the board. “I am not ready, I thought it was just a chat.”

“Your father said, you could give a presentation about this while sleeping.” Mr. Foster replied.

Rita finally gave in and agreed to pitch to the board. As she walked in, one of the board members asked, “it’s a girl? We can forget about pulling this off and getting foreign investors.”

“Don’t worry, it’s not her work.” Mr. Foster replied. “It’s engineer Briggs’ original work. She is just going to complete it.”

Mr. Foster motioned to her to play along.

“Excuse me?” She arched a brow. She exited the boardroom.

Mr. Foster went after her.

“Are you leaving?” He asked. “I know you are mad about the lie I told but…”

“The board doesn’t think I am good enough.” She interjected. “I am just a girl. It’s okay, I get that a lot. You can tell the board to forget about working with me.”

Mr. Foster scoffed, “and where do you think you will pitch to? No one will listen to you. Woodwork is your best bet, just stop being emotional.”

Rita clenched her teeth, “I need you to remember my face because I will be playing on the same turf with you and your sadistic company.”

She walked out and never looked back. When she got home, she wept a great deal. She cradled her father’s picture. “If you were still around, this would have never happened. Why does the world feel the need for male figures to validate women? I am enough!”

She roused herself and got to work. She soon perfected the prototype. With support from her friends and grandmother, she showcased it at the science fair organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Rita made it to the final.

“Ms. Briggs, tell us why you built this.” One of the judges asked.

“At 27 deaths per 1000 live births, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest neonatal mortality rate in the world, which is 43% of the global neonatal mortality rate.” She began. “I built this incubator because my baby brother did not get a chance to live. So many communities do not have incubators, and I believe this innovation will help save lives.”

Although she did not win the fair, coming in second place was a big win. Within weeks, she got an offer from SeyTech a giant tech company in Europe.

Rita’s solar-powered incubator not only changed lives but improved healthcare. The project positioned SeyTech as a leader in social initiatives—attracting attention from investors and the public.

Although fiction, Rita Briggs’ story showcases the potential impact of supporting women. Just like Woodwork Tech’s board, the world is not so receptive of women. Women have to be twice as resilient as men to be heard.

There is work to be done due to this sad reality. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), reports a persistent 30% global gender gap in the labor force since 1990. Men’s participation being 80% compared to women’s 50%. Women, aged 25-54 in 2022, had a 61.4% labor force participation rate compared to 90.6% for men.

A glaring gender gap exists, demanding attention to ensure that women are seen, heard and also invested in to achieve progress.

On this edition of the International Women’s Day, I join various stakeholders around the world in saying ‘count her in: invest in women. Accelerate Progress’

Around the world, we’ve heard of and seen many innovations birthed when we count women in. Let’s do more and enjoy all the excellent contributions women bring to the world.

The Roseline Adewuyi also partnered with American Corner Ikeja @americanspacesng , Boundless Hands Africa Initiative for Women & Children @boundlesshandsafrica, Roseline Initiative, and SieDi-Hub @siedi_hub. Thank you to the panelists, speakers, and facilitators: Saudat Salami @saudatsalami, Amb. Synka JyteDavis @synka_jytedavis, Joel Adeniyi @joeladeniyi, and Ayodele Ashiata Kadiri, who gave insightful talks on the theme for this year: “Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.” Thank you all for accepting our invitation.

Looking forward to making more impact next year.

International Women’s Day 2024

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