Are you in the habit of rushing to work and equally rushing home because there is so much to do both at home and at work? Ever went to bed tired ignoring so many things in the bedroom and kitchen needing your attention, only to be interrupted a few hours later by the sound from your alarm clock? Do you always leave the house with more chores needing your attention that you carry part of your makeup/shoes and scarves to the office to dress appropriately later? Do you sometimes wish you could be in two or three places all at once? Are you a mother that works? Because if you are, then you'll appreciate and understand why there is a need to talk about how hard each day is for this superwoman called the "working mom".
Working Moms Nigeria is an endeavors to help women strike a healthy balance between earning a living and maintaining a good home.

Dedicated to all the women who are juggling work and family. You too can be a part of this mind boggling experience by joining millions of ‘superheroes out there in sharing in their trails and travails. Welcome!!!

27 August 2015


By Ify Onyegbule

 In the last couple of weeks, I have sat down and taken a critical look at the tantrums and gnashing of teeth with the “appointment” of Hajia Amina Zakari as “Acting Chairman” of INEC and the fact that 95% of those questioning the move are men and it just stirs the feminist in me.

 As a Gender Activist and Social Critic I do understand the place of men especially in a country like ours that is largely patrilineal and I am trying to so hard to understand why there is so much hue and cry about this appointment and why it is giving people sleepless nights. Some have said she is not fit because she is “a Woman” (whatever that means) others say she is related to President Muhammadu Buhari (in various derogatory capacities), utterances that I think were made to drag her name in the mud and reduce her person to nothingness.

 I have never met Hajia Amina Zakari and I am looking forward to meeting her because of my passion for women issues and I will be glad to interview her on issues of women in the corridors of power and in politics. In bringing arguments forward, has anyone taken the time to find out if the woman who has been in the commission for years, serving in various capacities is qualified to hold such an exalted position? Has anyone taken time out to observe if she delivered outrightly in her various capacities in the commission? Do you qualify for a job because you have a penis between your legs or because you have brains in your head?

 It is pertinent that Nigerians understand who this woman is, what she has done and why she believes she is the best man for the job. If her critics say she is not fit for the job…who then is? I would expect that Nigerians rally round this woman who is the first of her kind (gender) to hold this position because if you look at it, in all of the positions that have been filled since the new administration came on board this is the only in the real sense of it, the only position that has come to the WOMEN….why would anyone kick and scratch about it? Let me not bore you with so much talk but allow you a peek into this woman known by a lot of people as ABZ.

Amina is one of the few Nigerians who has worked with three Presidents. 

 She was appointed Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR between 2004 and 2007, and posted to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where she served as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Social Development and also served as Acting Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, in addition to her appointments at INEC. ABZ had many successes at the FCTA: the overhaul and upgrade of Satellite Town hospitals of Kuje, Bwari, Abaji, Kwali, Karshi and Kubwa which are still providing access for improved maternal and child healthcare.

 Her appointment as an INEC Commissioner in 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR was a defining moment, making her an integral part of the team that successfully delivered two elections in 2011 and 2015, in Nigeria.

 Amina B. Zakari (ABZ) was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, as Acting Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), being the first female to occupy this position in Nigeria’s history, is the crowning glory of a very successful career that spans over three decades across the public and private sectors.


In her capacity as a National Commissioner had a strategic role for four years. She had the mandate for supervising the Political Parties Monitoring Committee. Her efforts to achieve common grounds for engagement of political parties led to the revitalization of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) which helped boost cohesion and consolidation of the nation’s political party system, resulting in the reduction of the number of registered parties from 63 to 28.

 She was deployed to chair the newly established INEC Planning Monitoring and Strategy Committee in November 2014 by the Chairman at the time Attahiru Jega. This helped to revamp the compliance monitoring mechanism of INEC through an internally driven process re-engineering and automation of the Election Management System (EMS). This contributed to an achievement of over 80% of voter material distribution recorded in the 2015 elections. She also oversaw the management of the INEC ad-hoc staff, particularly the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members.

 She also oversaw the establishment of a successful concessionary Public Private Partnership of the Garki Hospital which still competes favourably with public and private healthcare providers in the FCT. Through her efforts, the FCT Drug Revolving Fund grew from N80 Million to N300 Million. Her monitoring background afforded an opportunity to enforce ethical practice in FCT private hospitals through active registration and inspection. Her focus on inclusiveness resulted in the establishment of two orphanages, sporting facilities and successful HIV/AIDS prevention programs.

 From 1996 to 2001 she worked with Consolidated Health Services and subsequently Afri-Projects Consortium who were the management consultants for Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). She was an integral part of the team that managed the PTF funded health projects nationwide. This team developed systems and processes including robust monitoring and supervision tool. Her signature achievement was the revamp of the Drug Revolving Fund (DRF) which helped ensure access and sustainability for drugs in government hospitals nationwide.

 She also runs a healthcare consulting outfit when she is not performing public service. She started out her career as a young pharmacist at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi where she set up the University Clinic from scratch and has not looked back since then. She holds a degree in Pharmacy from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, in addition to executive programs at International Drug Agency Netherland, Crown Agents UK and Harvard Business School. She is a registered pharmacist and member of Pharmacists Society of Nigeria as well as a member of the Nigerian Institute of Management.

Amina is from Kazaure in Jigawa State and still plays an active role in community development. Her Father Hussaini Adamu was the Emir of Kazaure. In his early career he was an educationist and independence era civil servant that devoted his life to education and education policy. He was a champion for girl-child education and instilled a passion for public service in Amina and her siblings at an early age.

Amina Zakari is also a successful domestic engineer raising five children as a widow. She attributes her success to the blessing of God, support of an extended family system and a country that rewards hard work, dedication and commitment to duty.


 This is from her interview with Punch (Niyi Odebode) and The Nation (Yusuf Alli)
Will INEC continue using the card readers? 

 Card reader is here to stay, we are ensuring that the storage facilities are being run and we are doing an audit on our storage facilities because we monitor to ensure that everything is fine, you can't just leave it to chance until maybe 2019 when you open and discover all your card readers are not functional.

 You were on the verge of retiring from the commission when your appointment came. Did you lobby for it?

I did not lobby for it. I had packed all my things out of INEC, I wanted to leave on the 30th, I want to take a leave for the remaining three weeks, I felt as the commission was being depleted,  that I had a sense of responsibility to sit out my three weeks and then, I was just called on my way home as the chairman (Jega) handed over to Ambassador Wali, I was called that the head of service was looking for me and I said, "what for?" and I just continued driving and I was by Bullet house by the time I got the call and I just continued driving; I was almost home when they said "come back, you have a letter to be the acting chairman" and I said "but somebody was appointed in the morning", I said "take the letter to INEC," but they said, "its in your name, you have to come and receive it, just turn around."  And while I was arguing, my driver decided to turn around and I called the ambassador and I told him and he said, "go pick your letter." I called the former chairman and he said, "go pick the letter." I was confused and worried because it's an enormous responsibility and I wasn't really expecting it. I picked the letter and came back to the office the next day in a sober mood. I know the only thing left to do is to consolidate on the gains within this acting period, just maintain an administrative structure, try to keep the commission running administratively and then let's see what happens, since I know the problems of the commission in terms of business processes, so we are working on communication, we are discussing with the directors giving them responsibilities and hopefully, everything should be fine.

 Is it true you have filial or marital relationship to President Buhari?

I can't say the general is my in-law. I am not married to his son; my daughter is not married to him, that is what I understand about being an in-law, but obviously, in life, you have acquaintances, people you have known. But I think people should not get distracted by this 'family or no family'.

 Were you nominated by APC or any APC governor because that is the speculation?

The President is a man of himself and people should not think that people influence people of power. Even when I was made a commissioner, was it somebody from PDP that recommended me? I think the President had a job to do, he was confronted with the information that this number of commissioners have left, these are the ones remaining, and he chose a name. Possibly, commissioners are remaining, commissioners have left, he chose a name and he chose me, He seems to be a traditional person and

the gender activists starting working on him, so  that might have informed the choosing of the only female remaining out of the six commissioners.

 Were you the most senior commissioner?

 Yes, there were two of us, we were the two most senior commissioners and this is not the first time, INEC has had an acting commissioner.

 Your adversaries believe that you are desperate to get the job at all cost

No, no, I am not desperate and I don't have to get the job at all cost. I think even if I don't get the job, I have made history as the first acting female chairman of INEC. Within this period, have I done anything good? Have I done anything to improve the process? Even if it's a two-day job, somebody has to do it and I happen to be the one doing it. If somebody is asked to come and take over, I will willingly hand over to that person.

The PDP has been criticizing your appointment. Do you think this is justified?

In politics, everything is justified; I don't have a quarrel with them, I have worked very well with them being in charge of political parties and at that time, there was no single complaint about me.

Ify Onyegbule is a journalist, blogger and women activist. 
Source: www.ifyonyegbule.com

06 August 2015

Philips unveils findings on breastfeeding barriers for mothers in urban Africa

Accra, Ghana/ Nairobi, Kenya – Philips Africa today unveiled the results of its latest research focused 
on supporting new moms in their breastfeeding journey, to mark World Breastfeeding Week 
(1-7 August 2015). The study, which surveyed over 400 working moms in Accra, Ghana and Nairobi, 
Kenya, identifies key barriers for breastfeeding including unsupportive work environments and 
cultural influences, and is an outcome of Philips’ pledge to the United Nations 
Every Woman Every Child initiative.

The Philips study – supported by research company Dr. Monk aims to uncover the key breastfeeding 
obstacles for working women in both Ghana and Kenya in order to identify opportunities to 
support and empower them. Limited early initiation of breastfeeding, unsupportive work environments, 
and cultural influences, lack of access to breast milk expression facilities, poor daycare facilities, and 
impeding beliefs were among the challenges identified in the research.

Across the board, it was found that mothers know that breastfeeding is the right thing to do. Yet the ability 
to balance work and motherhood in a busy African city is hard and 52% of the women surveyed had to go 
back to work within three months, making breastfeeding or expressing difficult. In addition, pressure to 
work long days in order to make a sufficient income, stressful lives, and no space to express milk in 
the workplace, are all contributing factors to diminished breastfeeding rates.

Although 69% of women surveyed knew the importance of expressing breast milk if unable to 
breastfeed directly, the biggest barriers for new moms wanting to express included lack of 
space to express comfortably, access to technology like breast pumps, cooling and sterilization 
equipment and advice and coaching on the correct techniques to breastfeed enabling comfort and 
ease for both infant and mother.

Philips will utilize these findings in order to help countries, including Ghana and Kenya, with the 
healthy development of their infant population. Philips aims to use its rich innovation heritage 
and baby feeding expertise (through its extensive Philips Avent range) to encourage and empower 
women to combine going to work with breastfeeding.

Survey of over 400 working African mothers found breastfeeding obstacles such as
unsupportive work environments and cultural influences

How breastfeeding aids survival
In 2013, an estimated 106,000 children died in Kenya and 62,000 in Ghana, with pneumonia and 
diarrhea being two of the leading causes of death.[i] Breastfed babies are 15 times less likely to 
die from pneumonia and 11 times less likely to die from diarrhea.[ii] In fact, recent research has 
found that children in African countries under five who are breastfed have a 14 times greater 
chance of survival, and any increase in intensity or duration of breastfeeding can help.[iii] Globally, 
it is estimated that the lives of more than 800,000 children could be saved each year if every 
child was breastfed.

No mother should need to choose between earning a living, and giving their child the health benefits 
that only breastfeeding can provide” states Dr. Maarten van Herpen, Head of the 
Philips Africa Innovation Hub.At Philips, we have started to develop several innovative ideas that 
were inspired by the findings in this report. Hopefully, these innovations will prove effective to address 
some of the challenges to breastfeeding faced by mothers. As this report shows, the 
barriers to breastfeeding depend on different situations of different mothers. 
The issues are diverse – and so is the range of answers needed.”

Commenting on the outcomes of the report, Leith Greenslade, a Vice Chair with the UN Special 
Envoy for Health, stated: “The vast majority of the 400 Kenyan and Ghanaian mothers 
surveyed know that breastfeeding is best, and yet it is a minority of mothers in both countries who 
exclusively breastfeed. Probe deeper and the mothers reveal a raft of barriers to 
breastfeeding, most common among them the need to return to work. The Philips’ report shines a 
light onto the widening chasm between breastfeeding rhetoric and reality for these working mothers. 
The world keeps instructing them to breastfeed early and exclusively when the realities of daily 
working life in urban Africa make it increasingly impossible. Our ultimate goal should be to create a 
world where breastfeeding mothers have the freedom to breastfeed, because as the research unequivocally
demonstrates, breastfeeding is not just about child survival, it is fundamentally about mother empowerment.”


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