#EachForEqual: Medplus CEO, Joke Bakare lends voice to conversation on gender equality in Nigeria

As we commemorate the annual International Women’s Day, we celebrate the outstanding achievements of women – in the social, health, economic, cultural, and political spheres of society – and by so doing, spotlight those who have taken giant strides and left the world better than they met it.

International Women’s Day has become a global movement celebrating unity and strength. It is a reminder to reflect on how far they have come and the necessary action required for breaking the barriers around gender inequality.

For Joke Bakare, Medplus Pharmacy was created to bring medications and beauty products closer to everyone through retail stores with qualified specialists and certified products. As a young mother, she personally experienced the challenges of contemporary retail as it regards healthcare when she had to go miles away from her home to get prescribed medications pharmacies that were staffed by lay workers who were not qualified to sell medication to patients.

Her fears combined with the mass proliferation of fake drugs, the abuse of prescription medication through self-medication and recreational use, compelled Mrs. Bakare to do something about it. There were many options available to her, but founding a company that would ensure that people can get prescribed medications from trained medical professionals as quickly as possible seemed the most straightforward solution. The desire to meet this need for herself as well as other parents who had similar struggles led to Medplus Pharmacy.

Medplus Pharmacy is currently Nigeria’s leading health and beauty retailer, with over fifty operational stores spread out in strategic locations across the country. The diverse range of products and a commitment to quality instilled by Joke’s leadership has positioned Medplus as an all-round wellness partner. Joke, who is herself a renowned pharmacist is deeply invested in not only a revolutionizing the pharmacy and healthcare in Nigeria but is actively working to make safe, affordable healthcare and beauty products available to Nigerian homes and women in general.

The theme for the International Women’s Day 2020 – Each for Equal – emphasizes the role of every member of society in achieving collective liberation and lifting others up with a firm belief that “We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can help create a gender-equal world.”

Joke Bakare, CEO of Medplus Pharmacy joins the rising number of Nigerian female pioneers who are building on the progress of those who have come before them in fields populated and powered by men. She has created countless opportunities for women through her company and other personal platforms. One of her women-focused initiatives was a partnership with Pfizer, Sanofi, MG Ross, and PharmacyPlus to conduct free blood glucose tests for the public, especially women, in Medplus stores across the country in 2017. The aim of this project was to promote the importance of affordable and equitable healthcare access for all women at risk or living with diabetes, on World Diabetes Day.

She has also in the past supported several female organizations/events in other to promote the welfare of Nigerian women.  These include the Adara Foundation, a nonprofit social enterprise that focuses on empowering women for self-actualization; supporting, promoting and documenting African art; and advancing education in Africa, where she supported with free health checks and drugs. Other organizations she has supported financially and drug donations include Dagomo Foundation, Pathcare medical outreach for their ‘Doctors on Air’ program, International Women’s Organization for Charity, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria’s IDP Initiation.

In honour of over 300 phenomenal women who work at Medplus, Joke Bakare hosted an exclusive breakfast meeting for her female employees on International Women’s Day this year. They were joined by first female federal permanent secretary, Francesca Emmanuel and multitalented singer, Omawumi with whom they shared achievements and concerns while they inspired one other towards greater successes. Joke’s major aim is to create awareness to empower more women through every channel possible especially on job provision and pharmaceutical trainings.

As we contend with the brunt of a world fractured by gender inequality perpetuated by patriarchal institutions that are designed in ways that deplatform the gaze, experience, and agency of the woman, it is important not to forget the ones who continue to raise the bar – the ones who flip the script and are empowering other women to be active participants on the global stage.

 

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