THE SEARCH FOR PEACE AND CONTENTMENT
Pride Magazine Nigeria (PNG) interviews Ijeoma Anyiam-Osigwe (IAO), the Co-Convener of the Pride Women Conference. In this interview she tells us the reason behind the conference and how she tries to maintain her own emotional well-being.
PNG: What influenced you to set up the Pride Women Conference?
IAO: 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 being 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 our right to voice our opinions, to own properties, 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.
PNG: You are the Co-Convener of the conference. Who is your partner on this project?
IAO: My husband Charles Anyiam-Osigwe.
PNG: The motto of the Pride Women Conference is – “Emotional Well-Being Is Our Goal”. What informed the choice of this motto?
IAO: The motto captures in one short sentence the essence of the Pride women conference.
PNG: 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?
IAO: 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. The first 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.
PNG: How do you choose your speakers for each conference?
IAO: 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.
PNG: 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?
IAO: 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.
PNG: The Pride Women Conference is targeted 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 be gender specific?
IAO: 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 multitask 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.
PNG: What type of support does the conference receive in terms of finances and in-kind support?
IAO: 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.
PNG; How do you see the conference evolving over the next five years?
IAO: 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.
PNG: What are the challenges of staging the conference?
IAO: I will say generating publicity for the conference, so that the public knows it. We are trying to address this by getting more media partners on board. The other challenge is the required finance to stage the conference.
PNG: Does your organisation have any strategic partnerships with other organisations and are you open to such partnerships?
IAO: Presently we have some media partners. However, we are open to other kinds of partnerships that are beneficial to all parties.
PNG: What can you say is your best reward that comes from convening the Pride Women Conference?
IAO: I am very passionate about an individual’s emotional well-being. I am proud to be part of this initiative that seeks to address the issues women have been going through behind closed doors and providing solutions to them. The fact that this can lead to women being liberated from emotional turmoil and lead happy and fulfilled live gives me great satisfaction.
PNG: You and your husband are the conveners of the Pride Women Conference. Can you tell us how you maintain your own emotional well-being in marriage and life in general?
IAO: It is a lifetime journey of open communication and expressing your feelings openly and candidly. Being naked with the truth a lot of the time. In a lot of cultures and settings, women are not able to speak out, express their true feelings and emotions. So trying to maintain any emotional wellness is a herculean task. However, I am able to express myself, to speak out when I am hurting or being hurt by someone. I am aware and open about my emotions and feelings – I do not keep them bottled up inside. I also take the steps to address the issues that are affecting me emotionally.