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Insurers task governments on gender equality to achieve 1.25% economic growth

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Considering the prevalent gender inequality in Nigeria, shareholders in the nation’s insurance industry have enjoined the government at all levels to close the gender gap in major aspects of society.

The experts agreed that gender inequality in society today is among the most forms of social inequality which exists all over the world, with different effects in different regions. These differences are primarily due to cultural legacies, historical development, geographical location and religious norms which pre-dominate the society. Religion plays a vital role in the cultural life of different spaces. It is deeply rooted in peoples’ experiences and influences the socio-economic and political direction of society.

One of the underwriters and Head, Strategic Marketing and Communication Department, AIICO Insurance, Segun Olalandu, who spoke with The Guardian in an interview on the development at an event themed “Women’s Visibility in the Workplace”, in Lagos, said that it is also a fact that in the workplace that men and women do equal work, yet women are discriminated against by reason of their gender.

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This can explain why the UN recently declared gender equality as the unfinished business of our time. It reinforced the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979.

As the IMF and UN have noted, it is high time Nigeria closed the gender gaps because gender equality is essential for the achievement of sustainable development.

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Speaking also at a fora tagged “5th SME 100 Africa International Women” in Lagos, the Chief Customer and Marketing Officer at AXA Mansard Insurance Plc, Mrs Jumoke Odunlami, said Nigeria’s economy could further grow by as much as 1.25 percentage points on the average if the government could reduce gender inequality in critical aspects of society such as the labour market, education, legal rights and political representation.

Odunlami stressed that closing gender gaps and promoting gender equality are smart economics.

This, the organisation noted, has become expedient globally for several reasons, especially for low-income and developing countries such as Nigeria.

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Also, based on its cross-country analysis, there is no doubt that lower gender gaps are highly associated with higher growth rates across countries. It also shows that if Nigeria reduces gender inequality in some areas of representation, and improve health outcomes for women, the economy will witness a significant boost.

Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director at SME100 Africa, Charles Odii, said: “Men have 50% more global wealth than women and run more than 86% of businesses. While only 23% of women have access to credit in Africa, over 70% of women are financially excluded. This is a market failure that must be addressed to ensure equal rights and equal access to finance.”

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According to him, insurance operators remain passionate about partnering with women across all groups, sectors, life stages and varying peculiar needs all over Nigeria to form a formidable network among the women while providing the needed support to enable them to grow and help them live better lives.

Insurance expert, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Risks Analysts Insurance Brokers Limited and founder of Funmi Babington-Ashaye foundation, Mrs. Funmi Babington-Ashaye, said that it is disheartening that in spite of the advances women have made in the socio-economic sectors, their representation in politics and the corporate world is below five percent, whereas women constitute almost 50 percent of Nigeria’s population.

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