CONEX Liberia Celebrates IWD in Unique Style -As Speakers Urge for Women Solidarity

Most contemporary commercialists do exercise their corporate social responsibilities to their host communities and countries, but not too many of them align themselves overtly with rights and equality crusades of groups and people desiring better quality of life. It seems the entrenched nature of inequality and gender bias in a highly male-dominated and male-favored Liberian society is attracting some unlikely forces to take a stand. This is exactly what the oil czar, Conex Liberia, is doing. The Company put up a conspicuous presence during the celebration of the International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8, organizing a special forum at which various feminist speakers spoke of the need for accelerated solidarity for women and children’s protection and empowerment in the country and the world. The Analyst reports.

Conex Liberia, the Liberian oil business, has made known another version of its intervention—standing with women and girls on issues of equality and empowerment.

The company did not make secret this intention Tuesday, March 8, when it joined thousands of women and He4She’s celebrating this year’s international women’s day.

As the World held events to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and spotlight the individual and collective biases against women that fuel gender inequality, Conex Liberia added its flavor by paying tributes to the achievements Liberian women by organizing a befitting program for women staff of the entity.

Several renowned women were invited to deliver speeches and share their perspectives on gender quality issues.

Delivering a keynote address to the gathering, a renowned women activist and former President of the Female Lawyers Association of Liberia, Miss Deweh E. Gray, called on women to assert themselves to make the right choices to put them in the position of continuous relevance and seek means to unite and support each other for worthy cause.

“My message to you is let us support each other. We only can do it because behind every successful woman is herself. No one else can do it for us. We need to have a unified mind as to what we want to see and accomplished”, Madam Gray said.

She noted that the reason why women are not really succeeding is they do not lift up and support each other and called on them to learn how to support each other’s causes that will promote their wellbeing and give them some form of hope for a better way of addressing common issues that confront them.

“If we see faults in our colleagues, let us build them up, find out from them their problems instead of discouraging them, let us find out from successful people how they achieve it, maybe it will not go the same way but they could tell you what how they got there, that is being positive about it”, she said.

Madam Gray who said that her passion to be in the forefront of the cause of women is attributed to love she has for her mother when her father died and she has to step up to help her mother out and that it also fired up her resolution to seek for quality equation which took her to the College of West Africa and the University of Liberia to earn degrees and became a lawyer.

Madam Gray who had a flourishing career in public service where she served in several high profiled positions, among them being a Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other assignments in the diplomatic arena, said one of the thing that took her throughout her public career and still impacting her private career was she was respectful to her bosses and was keen in following instructions but was not willing to compromise anything that she stood for and defended her positions through no matter who was involved.

Touching on the trending issues of women participation in politics and leadership and the push for 30% representation in the national legislature, Madam Gray who had devoted most of her time towards women empowerment said she has a different view about the representation threshold Liberian women are fighting for and challenge them to go beyond setting their target at the 30%.

“When they come to us and they say we need to legislate for women in power, my take is why legislate women in power when you know you can do better than that. I am on my way now to discuss this 30%. Even if you want to do it, why restrict yourself to a number. You can have 5 powerful women and you make the change you want to see.  Sometimes it is not about the number; it is about the passion and ability for women to come together as a group and make the change you want”, she asserted.

Earlier on, Madam Wadei Powell, the Chief Executive Officer of Srimex Oil and Gas , who was the Guest Speaker spoke against the background of breaking the biases against women, said comparing with the work life experience between women in the developed like the United States of America and Liberia, one has to give credit to the Liberian women for putting up the resilience against the odds they go through. She said as phenomenal as motherhood could be, it places a serious challenge to blending it up with being a successful career woman but what matters most is not to be held down by all the setbacks along the line.

She said one of the major things that continue to keep women down is fear and urge them to overcome it by stepping up, saying no to things that will compromise their character and reputation and saying yes to things that will bring opportunities and enhance their career path.

She also stated that another factor that continues to keep women down is to be static and conservative, not keeping in touch with the changing reality of the world.

“In Liberia, when we are growing up, we most of the time move around people we went to school  with, attend the same church or surround ourselves with people in the same community and we don’t help ourselves in that way. You can’t limit yourselves that way.

“I gravitate towards strong women, women who are challenging, those who I want to emulate, women who I want to compete with because these are people that make me up my game. Over the years I walk along with a core group of different women from different professions and backgrounds and it has been rewarding”, the top corporate executive said.

She challenged the women not to be the “lay back” type and seize every opportunity life offers as well as making themselves competitive in every community or institution they belong to and stop playing the blame game as no one owes anyone anything. She added that most of the successful women we find in our society are those who took upon themselves to get outside of their comfort zone against all odds to achieve something.

In his message read on his behalf by Miss Cherifa Abdallah, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Cherif M. Abdallah, said the Board of Directors and Executive Management Team were pleased to celebrate the success, contributions and positive impact made by Liberian women locally and internationally and thanked God for giving great women to Liberia who through incredible odds have excelled in various sectors, some of whom, according to him were among those in the audience.

He said Conex is committed to performance management and will continue to promote and recognize top performing women and men who go above and beyond the call of duty.

To buttress his assertion to the equality policy of Conex, Mr. Abdallah noted that in 1945, the United Nations charter was first to affirm the principle of equality between women and men but it took another 30 years for the UN to set March 8, 1975 as international Women’s Day and that the entity was happy to join over 100 countries around the globe in commemorating the event.

“In 2021, a new hire class of 49 technicians were trained to operate the Conex Refinery. The top three students were females. Conex promoted the top female to supervisor because of her performance and leadership. This year, Conex promoted another female into a senior management position which was previously occupied by an expatriate. We are also proud of our MD at Conex Petroleum services, the Chief of Staff at Conex Oil and Gas Holdings and General Manager of the Conex Petroleum Terminal. These are all high performing ladies in the Conex Group. We also add the HR Managers in Sierra and Liberia who are all leading ladies.

“Today, I Cherif Abdallah re-commit to gender equality and justice for all women at Conex and Liberia. I call on members of the Executive Management Team and Senior Management Team to embrace the United Nations mandate pertaining to gender equality and the Decent Work Act of Liberia which addresses the rights of women in employment”, he said

In his remarks, Mr. T. Nelson William thanked the guests , especially the speaker s for honoring their invitation and called on the women to “ let their lights to shine”, drawing inspirational experiences from Mrs. Angie Brooks –Randolph who was the African woman to be elected as President of the UN General Assembly, Mrs. Emma Walser, first female judge appointed in 1971, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , elected 2005 as the first democratically elected president for Liberia and Africa, etc.

He said the CEO of the company has stated that women will always be prioritize because it believes in diversity with set skills in line with the UN Mandate on Gender Equality and the Decent Work Act of 2015 in Liberia

Also speaking at the occasion, a representative of the Managing Director, Aseem Singh saluted the women for their invaluable contributions made to the company and society and promised that the management will always be receptive towards gender equality in its employment policy.

Other attractions at the program include safety moments provided by the Department of Health, Safety and Quality, the wellness and Health tips performed by Mrs. Amanda Ajami and the Fitness tips by Miss Louvette Neal.

The program itself was colorful, ranging from the decorations to the splendid African attires worn by the women who all came out dressed  up in their best garment.

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