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OPINION March 8, 2018

Statement on 2018 International Women's Day and the Launch of the DFi's Women's Leadership Network

Today, I joined Axel van Trotsenberg, Vice President, Development Finance (DFi), Antonella Bassani, Vice President, Budget Performance Review and Strategic Planning (BPS), Axel Peuker, Ombudsman (OMB), and moderator, Lisa Finneran Senior Adviser, DFi to mark the 2018 International Women's Day and the launch of DFi's Women's Leadership Network. This new network will provide opportunities for women to learn from each other, make connections, and share insights on career development issues. 

The panel heard from senior World Bank leaders about their professional journeys and the steps they have, are, and will take to support women in their careers. 

Since I joined the World Bank in September 2015, I have always been a strong advocate for gender and development issues. When I worked in my home country of Nigeria, I supported a 17,000-strong association of informal sector women traders, with a focus on equipping them with the financial skills to run their small-scale businesses. 

I believe in paying it forward. Just last year, I initiated Bank-wide event, held under the theme "Women Achieving Success." Senior leaders joined a panel to share their perspectives and journeys. In 2017, I hosted the second International Women's Day event with the global theme "Be Bold for Change." At this event I joined several World Bank leaders for a lively discussion, where NASA's former Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan delivered the keynote.  

During today's DFi panel, I emphasized the point that the World Bank does not simply need more women. Rather the Bank needs more women in order to achieve our goals.

Gender diversity is not simply a human resources topic; it is a press for progress and a critical component of commercial and institutional success. 

As a concluding thought, I shared my guiding principles for success:

Arunma Oteh's 10 Principles of Success as a Woman

  1. Define what success looks like personally. Set goals and monitor how you are doing. Take concrete actions to achieve them daily, monthly, and yearly.
  2. Remember that your values are the foundations of life. Use them as your compass. My values are integrity, compassion, and empathy.
  3. Take complete responsibility for your life. Jim Rohn reminds us that you have to do your push-ups yourselves.
  4. Excellence should always be your mantra. It is one way to eliminate biases.
  5. Invest in yourself. Most successful people are voracious readers, have curious minds, and live a life of learning every day.
  6. Courage is key. When women take risks, they are usually well thought out. Go ahead. Do it even if you are afraid.
  7. Seek help early and expand your network.
  8. A positive attitude is key. Enjoy life, have fun and be passionate. Keep your perspective even when you feel that things are not working out as they should.
  9. Fail forward. In fact, I have learnt that what people consider a failure is usually a 'course correction' in order to catapult you to greater success.
  10. Pay it forward. There is so much to do to make the world a better place. Your generosity and contribution to society should be your legacy.
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