Empowering women to contribute meaningfully to economic growth
Women make significant contributions to world economy on a daily basis. A woman’s wage contributes to her household’s income and on average; she invests a higher proportion of her resources in her family’s welfare than her male counterpart.
Indeed, women’s unpaid work within the home: taking care of children and assisting the elderly and sick, for example – provides an invaluable, yet unmeasured, good to any economy. Yet women’s work in most parts of the world, particularly in developing countries, has not resulted in the same level of economic empowerment as that of men.
According to some estimates, one billion women — roughly one-seventh of the world’s population – are unable to achieve their full economic potential and ensure their own well-being, due to barriers to entering the workforce and engaging productively in the economy.
Women’s economic empowerment is about providing women with not only resources but also with the opportunities to apply resources in ways that lead to economic success.
There are two approaches to catalysing women’s economic empowerment. The first is supporting women’s access to secondary and tertiary education and vocational skills development so that can effectively compete for high-quality work in the labour market.
The second is supporting women-led businesses through greater access to credit and other financial services.
Access to all financial products and services – including savings, insurance, and credit – is an additional way for women to assert their role in economic decision-making.
These products and services provide women with the money to meet basic needs in the short-term and allow them to invest in productive resources that can shift them away from subsistence living in the long-term.
They also provide women with a degree of security in the face of personal or family crisis, in old age, and during economic shocks. Yet, legal, institutional, and socio-cultural barriers continue to systematically stand in the way of women’s access to these services.
The gender gap in financial resources is particularly damaging for female-run enterprises and farms that require capital to meet start-up costs and remain competitive. Businesses and farms headed by women tend to be undercapitalised, have poorer access to credit, and receive fewer loans than their male.
To bridge this gap, Access Bank Plc in collaboration with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) recently presented the LSETF W Initiative aimed at economically empowering women in Lagos State.
The initiative, which has a total loan portfolio of N10billion, is targeted at women-owned businesses (with at least 50 per cent ownership share) in operation for 1-5 years.
While delivering his address, Access Bank Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe said: “Access Bank is fully committed to bridging the existing gap and provide women with the support they need to successfully implement their business ideas”.
“Looking at the number of women presently, I don’t think the initial N4billion we set aside to help women will be sufficient and based on that, the initiative fund will be increased to N10billion.
Through partnerships with organisations such as LSETF, Access Bank will continue to help women break boundaries, reinvent the status-quo and take advantage of opportunities provided by technology and quality financial systems to make significant impact on the economy of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole,” Wigwe added.
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