#ICanBeSUGPresident, Challenging Gender Stereotypes
Since its inception, very few females have ever occupied the position of Vice President of the Microbiology Students Association in the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu let alone President. When I first declared interest in contesting for the position, my dad and friends discouraged me insisting that I could not successfully compete against the opposite sex.
The ‘powers that be’ in the department vowed that they will not stand idle and watch a female become the Vice President of the association. When some guys approached me to step down if I planned to remain alive and graduate from school, I became so terrified that I confided in some close my friends who encouraged me to press on, reminding me of all we had learned at the safe space sessions. The most challenging discouragement and discrimination I faced, was from my close friends and associates who criticised and totally abandoned me when I refused to heed their advice to step down for a male contestant.
Armed with knowledge gained from the safe space session’s experience, giving up the pursuit of my ambition to become the next female vice president was the last thing on my mind. I knew that I had a right to aspire to become anything I wanted to be. Infuriated at the audacity of my ambition and refusal to back down despite several pleas and threats, the outgoing president of the association, decided to keep me in dark over the necessary requirements and information needed to be fulfilled by aspirants. Knowing this, I made sure I was well prepared for the screening, fully aware of the fact that the male folks had become a formidable force who would have no qualms using their healthy mutuality to intimidate and disqualify me. Thankfully, I wasn’t disqualified and so began my grass root campaign. Mustering all the boldness, confidence and assertion I could, I began going from class to class, person to person, explaining why I was the right candidate for the position. And guess what? Within two weeks I covered the whole department and had the guys on my side too.
On the day of the election, I was a little bit shaky being harassed by the thoughts that my opponents had more money, more public acceptance, more power and strength. But at the end, to my greatest shock, I won the election with an overwhelming 546 to 137 vote score!
At that point, those who didn’t give me their support, who discouraged and pulled me down (the ladies especially) instantly sought my friendship.
Ever since, I have become a force to reckon with in my department. Nothing happens there without my input. To encourage other girls to be resilient in pursuing their dreams and aspirations with regards to leadership, entrepreneurship and financial independence, I successfully organised and facilitated a seminar for my fellow female students with the theme: “MAXIMIZING YOUR POTENTIALS”.
Chukwuegbo Ifeoma Anthonia
Vice President, Microbiology Students Association
Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu