Pastor Mrs Omowumi Popoola of Word Communication and Evangelistic Ministries (WOCOM) is the convener of The Unique Woman
Conference aimed at empowering women to be whom God created them to be. In this interview by TAYO GESINDE, she speaks
about the her passion for helping women to discover, develop and deploy their potentials, the 28th edition of The Unique Woman Conference holding today and how to have a successful marriage. Excerpts:
WHAT motivated you to go into women’s empowerment?
I have a passion to see women raised to fulfil their potentials. I have been empowering women for 28 years now. What motivated the idea of the Unique Woman Conference was that the Bible showed us that God created every one of us uniquely. Every person has a gift that is unique to them. I call them gifts because they were packaged in you when you were coming to earth and they were meant for you to use to develop the earth. Nobody is existing for nothing in this world. We are here on a mission and for a purpose. You have your divine configuration from God to replenish, subdue and multiply the earth. I discovered that not everybody is fulfilling this purpose due to one thing or the other that they have gone to in life. For some people, they were battered in their marriages, for others, the traumas they suffered while growing up had made them to forget who they are or that they have anything in them. So, this is what I am trying to pass across to every woman is that it does not matter who you are or what you have passed through in life. I want to help every woman to discover what they have, to see how they can develop it and in turn deploy it to serve their nation. It is in serving that you will be happy. A lot of people are not happy or fulfilled, they feel it is because they don’t have money, no. It is because they are not fulfilling the purpose for which they came. Everything has a purpose, once you are not fulfilling that purpose a part of you is missing. This is what The Unique Woman is all about.
What is the theme of this year’s conference?
The theme is: The Awakened Woman, there are great potentials in us that are dormant. We have giants in us, they are inside, not outside so, we need to arouse them and bring them out. They need to be awakened to come to terms with their identities as women. Just be a woman, you don’t need to shout, fight or struggle. You don’t need to challenge anyone, you just need to be yourself, not what people make you to be. Just be yourself and you will be able to be and do what God has assigned you to do. So , it is about women awakening themselves to be who God wants them to be.
What is your view about gender equality?
I don’t see the reason there should be any war among the sexes because we are different. We are created differently. What women can do, men can’t do them. I am in my own office as a woman and I am proud of that because I can do what no man can do. That is what I am born to be. So, we want to continue to teach women to stand in their place.
Some women in a bid to make ends meet, end up neglecting their children. How can women successfully juggle their homes and careers?
It is sad that some women have to neglect the home front, especially the care of the children, just to provide for them. I discovered that in our society. There are lots of things that government have to put in place to make life better for women. For example, transportation system. I have accosted some women in our school on why they allow okada men to bring their children to school but in a situation where she has three kids and they are young, if she followed them to school, the four of them would have to be on one okada with the okada man and that won’t be convenient. But if there is a bus system like we have abroad, of course, a woman would follow the children to school and pick them up afterwards. There are quite a number of things that the government have to put in place to help cushion the effect of some of these things that women do. We can say they should balance the home front with their careers, they want to do it but sometimes it is not balanceable. But I will still advice that no matter what, women should still think about the lives of their children especially when they are in their formative years. They need to spend quality time with them and make some sacrifices for them. The place of a mother in the upbringing of the children is very important so they need to be there for their children especially these days that nobody can be trusted. If you leave your children with their uncles, they may abuse them so mothers should try to be there for their children.
What are some of the encouraging stories you have heard from the women you have empowered?
When we started this empowerment 10 years ago, we started with refrigerators and deep freezers that women can use to sell soft drinks and water. We thought it was small but we were amazed at how these things turned the fortune of the women in the first year. This made us to add more things like grinding mill, sewing machines and so on. There are women we gave little money that was when I knew the power of what N5,000 could do. That was what some women used to start their businesses and today they are no longer depending on people, they are even contributing their own quota to the conference because they have been empowered and they are making profits from their businesses.
Women are known to be empathetic. We have heard stories of women who were empowered to start a business but when they had needs in the home, they diverted the money to take care of their families. How can a home separate her business from her personal life?
That is why we are training them as well because that is how God created women. They are too emotional . For instance, a woman could have invested time and energy to do her Phd but on the day she is to do her defence, the child falls sick and she would forget everything about the defence and throw everything away. She won’t even think that the child would not die if she could take control of her emotions and try to strike a balance. It has happened to me before. What women should do is to seek emotional balance first and foremost. We need to be more practical. We should not use our capital to pay school fees. If you do that, that is the end of the business. If your child needs to be withdrawn from school, it is just going to be temporary. Face your business , let the child be at home for few months till you can raise the money or withdraw the child from private school and put him in a public school for a while.
The world is now a global village and children are exposed to a lot of things these days. How can one raise godly children in the midst of all these external influences?
We need to be there for our children. You can’t have a say when you are not there. You won’t know what is happening. I would want to say that we need to monitor our children, sit down with them and censor what they watch on the internet. Every morning, pray together and read the Bible together. As busy as I am, I make sure we do that every day and when I am not around there is an assistant mother who takes charge. It requires a lot of effort but we have to do these things and God has given us the grace to do them. Let us not be lazy, it is our responsibility to teach our children and also lead them by example. Also, we must correct them in love when they miss it. We must not take out our frustration on them.
Having been married for many decades, can you share with us tips on how to have a successful marriage?
First and foremost people should know that marriage is a gift from God and God is part of the package of His love for us. We should have that at the back of our mind. The way you see something affects how you translate it. If you see marriage as war, that is what it will be but if you see it as a gift of God’s love to you, you will see it as something that God intends you to enjoy, that was how I saw my marriage from the beginning. So even the troubles in the marriage, I didn’t see them as troubles until they had passed. I would want to advise that they see it as God’s gift and if you don’t see it that way, pray to God. It was God that instituted it, ask Him to help you to understand it and He will.
These days young people think they are smart so they don’t want to listen to people who are experienced, they feel they are old school. I want to counsel that people should look up to God to help them. The fact that you are a pastor or Christian does not preclude you from consulting God to help you to enjoy our marriage.
Advice for women and young people?
I want every woman to know that you have been called into a great office so, just be yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured to perform and leave who you are to step into someone else’s shoe. Just be yourself, be a woman and contribute your quota to the development of the country, To young people, I want to say they have a lot to learn from the elderly ones. They should not see all things as old school. They should move close to people who are godly and successful to be mentored by them. Seek to develop yourself, acquire knowledge and skill. Everything is not fun. Life is more than fun. When you have worked hard, then fun will follow.