Alakija calls for more women in publishing business

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Businesswoman and publisher Apostle Folorusho Alakija has decried the high entry barriers the printing and publishing industry has for women.

She said the world gender ratio was approximately 50:50 and, in her view, 50 per cent of the world’s economic potential have been lost due to the exclusion of women in leadership roles.

Alakija, who recently released five books, called for more women to venture into the publishing business in Nigeria.

“The printing and publishing sector presents high entry barriers for women because it is highly capital intensive and technology-driven. I have had my fair challenges as an author, printer and publisher but with persistence and tenacity, I have been able to move forward. However, women are still vastly underrepresented in this space and need encouragement to flourish in this sector’’ she said.

She made the submission as a guest speaker at this years Nigerian International Book Festival (NIBF).

Speaking on the theme of this years conference, Awakening the Giant in Women for the Growth of the Book Ecosystem, Alakija, who is also the founder of Famfa Oil Limited, posited that the growth and development of the educational system and Nigeria’s economy, depends on reducing the gender ratio in the book industry through policy change. She enjoined the Bank of Industry to give more attention to the education sector and women driven-businesses particularly, in the publishing industry.

She said: The stereotypes that women have been cast in, gender discrimination and economic disempowerment as well as a deliberate exclusion from capital-intensive and technology-driven male-dominated industries, has rendered most women helpless in the face of daunting circumstances.

There is need for legislation to empower female business owners while seeing to the eradication of taboos and cultural biases preventing women from thriving in business. The influence of a woman is far-reaching, it is important that more women enter the business of publishing as this will create a natural love for knowledge and reading which will be taught and extended their children, making readers and leaders out of them.

In addition, she recalled Famfa oil Limiteds contribution of approximately N2.5b on educational infrastructure and N8.4b on scholarships since 2008, in collaboration with partners.

We sought to do more to advance literacy and reading in Nigeria. To this end, we celebrated UNESCOs World Book Day in Nigeria in 2019 and inaugurated the Famfa Oil Literacy Day (FOLD), in 2020 to foster a reading culture among children in primary schools while also teaching them leadership skills. Also, having recognised the role of literacy in reducing poverty and inequality, we are committed to supporting educational initiatives that encourage learning she said.

At the conference, Alakija presented 16 books she has authored including her first autobiography and its sequel, while holding a book signing session for readers and fans.

She lauded NIBF organisers on their consistent efforts at enhancing literacy in Nigeria, adding value to the printing industry. It is noteworthy that this festival, promotes the reading culture in the country via educational and cognitive platforms; while advocating for stakeholders in the book industry, collaborating with the government advance the book industry and reading culture, she state