My name is Ambassador, Dr. Uzo-Udegbunam Chioma, an indigene of Abatete in Idemili North local government area of Anambra State. My father’s name is Sir Emmanuel Iwuagwu, while my mother’s name is Mrs. Pauline Iwuagwu. I am the first out of nine children my parents bore. (Eight girls and a boy).
My father retired as a head teacher at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO) Staff School, while my mother, though late, was one of the pioneer matrons at the National Hospital, Abuja.
I had my primary education at FUTO Staff School in Owerri and my secondary education at Owerri Girls Model Secondary School.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Administration from the University of Calabar. I also have a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Doctorate of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) in Public Policy Analysis both from the Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
It will also interest you to note that only recently, the Mayor, City of Orange Township in New Jersey, Honourable Mayor Dwayne D. Warren, proclaimed July 9, 2022 as Dr Chioma Uzo-Udegbunam Day in the City of Orange Township.
During my mandatory one year National Youth Service year at the FCTA, I got an award as one of the best corps member, during my service year. The then minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Hussein (Rtd), gave me automatic employment as an admin/protocol officer in his office. That was how I started my career as an administrator. Today, by God’s grace, I am a deputy director in the department of audit.
Most of my mentors are international. One of my major mentors is Britnee Timberlake, the New Jersey State representative. My second role model is Late Dr. (Mrs) Maryam Babangida. This is because during her life time she worked so assiduously and selflessly to ensure that women and girls are placed appropriately in their rightful positions. She also thrived to ensure that she puts smiles on the faces of the downtrodden.
My inspiration is seeing women empowered. This is because I believe that when you are empowered, you become powerful and you will have a source of income. You can then direct and re-direct activities and actions and you will be respected and recommended.
I don’t really have fears, but there is only one thing that scares me. Why is that when a woman aspires to do what a man has done, tongues begins to wag. Many people believe that a woman cannot achieve anything without the support of a man.
The question is why is it that people always attribute the success of a woman to a man.
WHAT STANDS YOU OUT
Yes, I always try to explore those areas people think are not explorable. I love exploring and I am not scared of anything, because I am a dogged fighter.
My challenges are more of religious and cultural. Reasons are that despite wanting to help some women because of these factors. In fact, my hands are usually tied because most of my efforts to reach some of these vulnerable women are often hindered. Take training for instance, most times, when I want to train some women on skill acquisition programmes, or even initiate campaign against child marriages, cultural beliefs among the women often affect the success of these efforts.
My first regret is that my mother did not live long to reap the fruit of her labour. I usually feel pained that the woman who taught me how to keep my lamb burning to study at night is no more to at least, hit her chest and dance to my achievements in life. She would have at least lived to see where that vision we spoke about has placed me today. She saw the vision and encouraged me to work towards achieving it but sadly, she did not live long to see it come to fruition.
In the next five years, I see myself working with international bodies to change the narrative and perception of women in this part of the world. I want to be part of those who will bring permanent succour to the downtrodden.
I also see myself making big waves in women related matters.
ADVICE FOR FELLOW WOMEN
I advice every woman not to accept playing a second fiddle, because God has given all of us enough to explore. So, don’t hoard yours as a woman.