Mentorship programme to help women ‘break down barriers’ into health and safety careers

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The women's safety group, SOWSHEA, has initiated a new career development programme to equip African young women with safety and leadership skills with the support of British Safety Council.

The Society of Women in Safety, Health and Environment – Africa (SOWSHEA) is implementing a unique mentoring and training programme for all its members across the Globe and with support from the British Safety Council. The mentorship programme aims to give young women the confidence and skills to succeed in health, safety and environment careers.

The six-week programme, which launched on 7 August, will see around 100 women gain access to expert guidance, training and one-on-one mentorship with astute occupational health, environment and safety professionals of African descent working in industries worldwide.

SOWSHE-A 2022 Cancer Awareness Walk in Nigeria.

The programme was conceived by the leadership team of SOWSHEA as part of the their strategic goals for the Society and as a result of the dream of the founder Funmi Adegbola, also managing director of health and safety consultancy, CTS Globe.

Funmi Adegbola said: “We are thrilled to introduce our impactful six-week mentorship programme, exclusively designed to empower young women in the field of occupational health, safety, environment, sustainability, and quality management (HSESQ). With generous support and sponsorship from the esteemed British Safety Council, this programme aims to provide mentees with invaluable guidance and support to excel in their chosen areas of interest within these critical industries.”

She added: “Our mentorship programme was created with a deep understanding of the unique challenges young women face in the HSESQ field especially in Africa and other emerging economies. We firmly believe that fostering a nurturing mentorship environment can break down barriers and unlock the immense potential that lies within each mentee.”

The British Safety Council will be providing access to its certificated courses and training, as part of their support for the Society. While the weekly one-on-one sessions by both members and non-members of SOWSHE-A including male professional allies will enable students and mentors to discuss progress, set goals, and address any challenges faced by the mentees.

The intensive six-weeks will be structured around nine (9) key areas:

  1. Risk Assessment & Management: Equipping mentees with skills to identify, evaluate, and manage risks effectively.
  2. Safety Leadership & Excellence: Nurturing leadership qualities to promote a culture of safety and excellence within organizations.
  3. Environmental Management & Sustainability: Providing insights into sustainable practices and environmental stewardship.
  4. Ergonomics: Understanding and implementing ergonomic principles for safer work environments.
  5. Security Management: Exploring strategies to safeguard assets, personnel, and information within organizations.
  6. Quality Management System: Gaining insights into maintaining quality standards and continuous improvement.
  7. Inspection and Auditing: Learning best practices for conducting inspections and audits to ensure compliance.
  8. Organizational Health and Wellbeing: Focusing on promoting employee health and well-being for enhanced productivity.

At the end of the programme, mentees will have acquired new specialised skills, grown their expertise and marketability and developed leadership qualities and confidence, positioning them for future leadership roles. It is hoped that mentor-mentee bonds will continue beyond the six weeks.

Dr Julie Riggs, head of education at the British Safety Council commented: “The British Safety Council are proud to be supporting SOWSHE-A, as they continue to empower women and promote opportunities in HSESQ.”

“The work by Funmi and SOWSHE-A is creating meaningful and sustainable progress towards gender equality in HSESQ, in an environment where women face barriers to career progression, access to mentors and pathways for learning. SOWSHE-A are positive advocators, leading the change, building capability and creating a legacy by inspiring young women to see HSESQ as a viable career option, which ultimately will encourage the next generation of future health and safety professionals.”

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