My UEA Story: Nkechi Eke Nwankwo
Name: Nkechi Eke Nwankwo
School: International Development*
Research area: Women’s Economic Empowerment
Bio: UEA’s Africa PhD scholar is researching Women’s Economic Empowerment at the School of International Development*. She earned her Master’s degree at the London School of Economics in 2005 as a Chevening scholar. Nkechi worked as Oxfam GB West Africa Regional Gender Adviser and as Lead Gender Adviser on DFID Growth and Employment in States programme in Nigeria before embarking on her PhD.
My name is Nkechi Nwankwo. My research is on women's economic empowerment and I'm looking at the gender strategies and institutions in Lagos Nigeria.
Why is your research important?
My research is important because it ties to the global search for ways to end poverty and exclusion.
What could your research mean in the real world?
In the real world that would mean looking at what the difficulties are for women from their own, not defined by other people, but defined by the women themselves, which is why I went to the market to interview 80 women traders to tell me what the issues are for them and also to look at what do the institutions that are supposed to support them think the issues are and then to match those up.
What motivates you?
My work life, I've worked on that area being a gender specialist, just trying to see what the challenges are that are stopping women and other marginalised groups from reaching their highest potentials so that has been my passion because I think that every human being has value and has potentials and they need to reach that for the whole world to be able to reach its own potential.
7am to 8:30am
I wake up by 7am and start my day with reading my Bible and praying. Then I shower and have a light breakfast. I find that I am more productive working from my room in the morning. So, I try not to schedule any engagements early in the day. I live off campus, about a 20 minute- walk to UEA which is perfect since I am largely in control of my schedule.
8:30am to 12pm
I am usually seated at my room study desk by 8:30am and I begin my daily academic work with the most challenging piece of writing or desk research that is on my to-do list (prepared the night before). I resist the temptation to take on the easier tasks. Instead, I plan the more fun writing or reading as rewards for finishing my set target on the more difficult ones. This block of time is often my most productive period.
12pm to 1pm
I go to UEA for seminars, meetings and lunch-time catch up with friends and PhD colleagues. On the days that I have my monthly review meetings with my supervisors, I also schedule it around this time. The supervisory meetings last one hour and involve getting feedback on completed pieces of writing and advice on useful literature and possible ways to analyse my data.
Depending on the day, I may go swimming in the beautiful UEA sports park around noon. I pick this time because it is the quietest time to enjoy a swim. I usually swim three days a week for about one hour and then go for lunch.
2pm to 5pm
In the afternoon, I catch up on emails and social media. I also use this time to pick up any library books I need or attend the Personal and Professional Development (PPD) trainings that UEA offers. Otherwise, I try to finish up any writing or research tasks.
6pm to 7pm
I like to have dinner before 7pm. So, I would make and eat dinner around 6pm. This is also the daily chat-up time with my husband (via WhatsApp), sharing how our day has been – sometimes with him also having dinner in Nigeria.
8pm to 9pm
After dinner, I continue my writing and research for about an hour. This presents another chance for me to push ahead with completing chapter drafts or editing previous writing.
9pm to 10pm
I spend time chatting with my housemates, friends or other family members (over the phone or social media). Alternatively, I may listen to music or curl up with light reading to unwind, preparatory to going to bed.
*As part of their 50th anniversary celebration in 2023, the School of International Development has changed its name to the School of Global Development.