The Inkblot Women In Film (IWIF) is tackling unequal income pay, sexism and challenges experienced by women in the industry at the April edition of the IWIF lunch held in Lagos on the 9th of April, 2021. Initiated by the Co-founder of Inkblot Productions Zulumoke Oyibo, the IWIF was created to advocate for women’s inclusiveness and impartial access in the Nigerian Film Industry. With the objective of tackling social, ethical and professional issues surrounding women in Nollywood, IWIF aims at creating a working environment that is safe and free. “The industry is opening up now, and as we continue to grow, it will be great to have it less fragmented and informal than it currently is. The IWIF is to ensure that we put together whatever we need to get the industry to become the standard industry that we desire it to be,” Oyibo emphasized at the third edition of the IWIF lunch.
In attendance at the event were top Nigerian women making a mark in the film industry who share the same vision as the IWIF and are ready to take actionable steps. From disrespect to unequal pay, sexism and more, they shared first-hand experiences of issues women face in Nollywood. Actor, producer and host, Eku Edewor made reference to the portrayal of sexism in Nollywood, mentioning that some female producers and writers are guilty of this as well. “Report shows that women make up 60% of the Nollywood film audience. It is important that women are represented better in films, rather than telling the story from the male gaze: from characterization to story, costumes and more” – Edewor said proffering a solution.
Another issue that was brought into the limelight is the gender pay gap. We are currently in the 21st Century where women are strongly rooting for gender equality but the sad reality of inequality is still very apparent in various industries. For instance, many of the attendees at IWIF confirmed that women still earn less than men, for doing equal work in some productions. What’s even more shocking is that there have been cases where male supporting actors got paid more than the female leads. Actor and presenter, Michelle Dede said, “One of the things that always stuck out when I first came to work here (Nigeria) was the fact that people felt the male host of a show should be better paid than the female, even though the woman would have done all the research and is better equipped than her male counterpart”.
Speaking on the same vein of gender pay gap, Omowunmi Akinnifesi stated that “secrecy in fees is also one of the reasons why the pay inequality thrives”. The former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria and founder of Global Woman Africa suggested that it would help if practitioners opened up about their fees so people know what is obtainable and no one gets cheated.
Women were encouraged to not accept being treated unequally or paid less than they deserve when such instances occur. “Sometimes it is very hard to say no when everyone is saying yes, but to get a standardized rate and improve the way creatives are paid, people may need to start saying NO to fees that do not reflect their worth.” Said Teniola Olatoni, director and producer.
To solve this, it was recommended that Nollywood welcomes a standard/union level fee structure as is practised in some other film industries across the globe. The belief is that when there is no secrecy about the fees that people are paid in the industry, people will not be shortchanged as everyone has an idea how much they are paid. A structure that caters to what everyone should be entitled to base on expertise and experience, regardless of gender.
In attendance at the event were Nancy Isime (Actor and Talk show host); Efe Irele (Actor & Producer); Eku Edewor (Actor/Producer/TV Host); Ibukun Omisore (Insurance broker); Jemima Osunde (Actor & physiotherapist); Joy Azumar (Lawyer); Michelle Dede (Actor and Presenter); Omowunmi Akinnifesi (Beauty Queen/Founder Global woman Africa); Teniola Olatoni (Director/Producer); Dr Funmilola Odubitan (Insurance broker); Uche Odoh (Director & Producer) Amaka Akukwe (Founder, Redbox Events), and Omawumi Ogbe (PR & Communications consultant).
See more pictures from the event below: