APWEN Awka Invests Second Chairman, Holds Annual Workshop

Omenugha Tasks Women on Professionalism, Careerism

By Precious Ukeje and Adejumoke Alebiosu

The Association of Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN, Awka Chapter, last Saturday, February 20, held the investiture ceremony of its second Chairman, Engineer Nneka Ifeyinwa Ezeani, MNSE, and members of her executive.

This event was followed by an annual workshop of the association aimed at capacity building for both members and attendees.

Ezeani, at Crescent Springs Hotel, Iyiagu Estate in Awka, took over from the chapter’s first Chairman, Engr Oluchi Maryjane Okoli, who had served since November 23, 2018, when the chapter was inaugurated. Her chairmanship became effective immediately after inauguration.

Engr Nneka Ifeyinwa Ezeani (middle) is invested second Chairman, APWEN, Awka Chapter, by the outgoing Chairman, Engr Oluchi Maryjane Okoli (left). Engr Ezeani’s husband, Engr Dr Obum Ezeani, looks on.

Fides reports that APWEN was formed in 1982 by a group of women engineers led by Engr Joana Olu Maduka, as a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, to be a catalyst for the advancement of women in Engineering towards national and global technological development.

Delivering an address of welcome/valedictory speech before the investiture, Engr Okoli appreciated their guests and noted that the day marked a major milestone in the chapter. She added that women were underrepresented in Engineering and workforce despite efforts made towards bridging the gender gap in the profession.

Among a number of the out gone Chairman’s achievements were access to employment opportunities for members at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko; inauguration of a collegiate chapter at Nnamdi Azikiwe University and efforts towards securing a stand-by place of industrial attachment for collegiate members.

Others, according to Engr Okoli, included quiz competitions among female secondary school students in Anambra State and sponsoring of members to a five-day APWEN National Conference that held in Asaba, Delta State in September, 2019.

For her part, in her inaugural speech, the new Chairman described the event as epoch making.

Engr Ezeani noted that they had explored a theme that was topical, relevant and impacted on the lives and concerns of career women in Nigeria, adding that the challenges brought by coronavirus were multiple for women. She said many had to step back from work due to caring responsibilities, which, she noted, made them lose visibility and relinquish status.

While she noted that the event would avail them with more insights on the need to navigate the effects of the virus and sharpen their skills, she stated her commitment to leadership, as well as seeing the chapter continue to spur young girls on the need to join in shaping the world by taking up Engineering courses in addition to encouraging women to achieve professional excellence as engineers and leaders.

‘Our core project in this new administration is to award scholarships to at least five students of any government secondary school in Anambra State, a scholarship that will run from SS1 to SS3 for students that wish to take up any of the STEM courses in the higher institution,’ the new Chairman added.

In another highpoint of the ceremony, the Commissioner for Education in Anambra State, Professor Kate Omenugha, delivered a keynote lecture on the theme, “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on professional career women: the importance of resilience”, charging the women engineers and other attendees to strive for professionalism instead of careerism; a situation where they pursued career at the expense of other important elements of their lives.

Prof. Omenugha charged them to take care of themselves and their families, noting that it would be in their good interest to have their families intact and also thrive in their chosen careers.

When she spoke with Fides, she said she was invited to receive an award and share her experiences with the younger women, Omenugha described herself as someone who was female and seemed to have succeeded despite all odds.

The Commissioner added that it was an opportunity for her to talk with the female engineers, encourage and mentor them and to tell them that they had actually crossed the line in so many ways, including fighting the stereotype of women upbringing in Engineering.

She urged them to keep their eyes on the ball and maintain their dignity as they strove hard to be resilient, strong and continuing to work hard.