Nigeria’s trouble woman

Date: January 1, 1970
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This profile of Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Weala, one of two women finance ministers in the world, shows how one woman has taken on a chaotic and corrupt financial system – and is turning it around.

This article may be used in training to:
1. Prompt debate on why there are so few women finance ministers; if there are special qualities that women bring to financial decision-making; and how to ensure gender parity at this level.
2. Demonstrate the elements of a good profile.   
Trainer’s notes
Use this article to draw out how the personal is balanced with the political in this piece. Notice that Okonjo-Iweala’s family is only brought in so far as it demonstrates the sacrifice that she has made to take up the post of Nigeria’s finance minister, and that there is no mention of her husband, who he is or what he does. Draw out the descriptive parts that build a picture of her as a firm, competent, but also caring professional. Draw out the attributes of women listed by Okonjo-Iweala herself that she believes serve her well in her job: for example multi tasking and not having a big ego.
Discussion Questions:
1. Ask participants to think of any women they might know in economic decision-making. Do they bring unique qualities to the job?
2. Are there any ways that participants can think of that predispose women to be good decision-makers in the economic sphere?
3. Is there any relationship between being able to manage the budget in the home and being able to manage the budget and affairs of a nation?
Training exercises
1. Ask participants to read the job description of a housewife below and ask what skills are required for this job; then think about what skills are needed for economic decision-making and whether there is any relationship between the two. The list is likely to be remarkably similar!
Applications are invited for the position of manager of a lively team of four demanding individuals of differing needs and personalities. The successful applicant will be required to perform and co-ordinate the following functions: companion, counsellor, financial manager, buying officer, teacher, nurse, chef, nutritionist, decorator, cleaner, driver, child care supervisor, social secretary and recreation officer.
Applicants must have unlimited drive and the strongest sense of responsibility. They must be independent and self motivated and be able to work in isolation and without supervision. They must be skilled in management of people of all ages. They must be able to work under stress for long periods of time of necessary. They must have flexibility to perform conflicting tasks at one time without tiring. They must have the ability to handle new developments in the life of the team, including emergencies and serious crises. They must be able to communicate on a range of issues with people of all ages including public servants, school teachers, dentists, doctors, trades people, business people, teenagers and children. They must be healthy, creative, active and outgoing. They must have imagination, sensitivity, warmth and understanding, since they are responsible for the emotional and mental well being of the team.
All waking hours and a 24 hour shift where necessary.
None. Allowances by arrangement with the income earning member of the team. The successful applicant may be required to hold a second job in addition to the one advertised.
No guaranteed holidays. No guaranteed sick leave, maternity leave or long service leave. No guaranteed life or accident insurance. No workers compensation. No superannuation.
(From: No More Peanuts: Liberty, National Council for Civil Liberties, 1990)
Links to Training Resources:
Business Unusual Fact Sheets. Refer to fact sheet twelve

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