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Stakeholders demand improved women empowerment in post MDGs framework


STAKEHOLDERS  and delegates at the United Nation 59th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference in New York have demanded that issues and development demands of women must form the key focus of the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals currently being put together by the global community.

The stakeholders made their position known during the event tagged: “The Role of Women Parliamentarians in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa: Lessons from the Millennium Development Goals.”

A new post MDGs agenda is expected to come into force in September at the General Assembly of the UN (UNGAS) and is expected to address the unfinished business of the MDGs, which came into operation about 15 years ago.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), Dr. Precious Gbeneol, the theme of the event is apt and demonstrates a comprehension of the need to stay the course as the global community adopts a new development paradigm which leaves no one behind.

This is especially so, according to her, in view of the bearing of gender on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, “It is thus crucial to unlock the potential latent in women and girls, as this is an indispensable condition necessary to achieve gender equality and inclusive development.”

Gbeneol added that, “drawing from lessons learnt from the implementation of the MDGs in Nigeria, there is evidence that demonstrates that investing in women matters for poverty eradication. There is consensus that gender is a cross cutting issue and should remain a priority in the final push to achieve the other MDGs in the little time remaining.

“Nigeria lends her voice to the saying that the MDGs can only be achieved by addressing the disproportionate burden of poverty that affects women, lack of equal access to education and health services as well as lack of productive employment for women.

“For the avoidance of doubt and at the risk of being repetitive, we use this moment to again reiterate that gender is a determining factor in poverty-environment linkages as gender inequality, environmental deterioration and deepening poverty are mutually self-reinforcing. Improvement in any one of these three enhances livelihoods, improves resilience and reduces vulnerability.”

According to her, Nigeria as a signatory to many international conventions targeted at improving gender equality and in accordance with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Addis Ababa Declaration on the Elimination and Prevention of all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls as well as the Millennium Declaration, the country is implementing high impact interventions specifically targeted at women.

She maintained that, the “Conditional Cash Transfer Schemes reach thousands of core poor, women-headed households as an incentive that stimulates demand for the uptake of educational services for the girl child and health services for women and children. The Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme has the transfer of agricultural enterprise to women as an exit strategy in order to forestall a culture of dependency.

“Nigeria’s conditional grants scheme provides interventions such as water and health facilities, classroom blocks and training for different cadres of health workers, amongst others.”

The Presidential aide on MDGs however added that though Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan has made significant strides by advancing women political empowerment especially into appointive positions, her office continues to strive in order to expand the political space for women so as to make incursion into elective offices which are at the moment dominated by men.

The Presidential aide said: “Consequently, the Nigerian Women Trust Fund launched by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs in 2011 with funding from her office provides resources for women interested in leadership to contest for elective positions.

The Fund also provides a mentorship scheme for girls while interfacing with the Nigerian Electoral Commission as well as political parties in order to create space and an enabling environment for women to participate in politics.

The delegates opined that the implementation of the current MDGs framework was limited by the regrettable fact of not accommodating the views and inputs of parliamentarians, whose responsibilities it is to pass legislations and approve budgetary spending for policies at the point of framing the agenda.

Among the delegates and speakers were Dr. Precious K. Gbeneol, Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the MDGs, Prof Joy Ogwu, Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Nigeria), Mitchell Toomey, Director, United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), and Hajiya Zainab Maina, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Nigeria.

Others were Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Associate Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP, and Bethel Nnaemeka Amadi, President of the Pan African Parliament, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Founder, Women in Parliament Global Forum, AWEPA, and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission among others.

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