Realising Agenda 2063 remains an illusion without women empowerment
… Over N37.9b disbursed to 496 women-led enterprises in 2019
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063 will remain elusive and a mere illusion, except gender gaps, are closed and women empowered.
This was the view of stakeholders during the commemoration of the International Women’s Day, recently in Lagos.
Specifically, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, warned that the costs of depriving women and girls their rights and opportunities are huge, and borne not by them alone but by all in the country.
Tallen disclosed this during the Bank of Industry (BoI) International Women’s Day Celebration on Thursday in Lagos, themed, “Each For Equal.”
Besides, the Bank said it has disbursed N37.9 billion to over 496 women-led enterprises as at December 2019.
“Given the galloping increase in the cost of exclusion, the more we delay in bridging the gender gaps, we will continue to experience the negative aftermath.
“Therefore, investing in women and girls and ending gender inequality would not only set us on a double-digit economic growth track, but would also significantly contribute to meeting our development goals,” Tallen said.
Tallen represented by Mrs Jummai Idonije, Special Assistant Technical to the Minister, said that the ministry would adopt a multi-sectoral approach involving the Ministries of Health, Education, Environment and Trade and Investment, to achieve inclusion for women.
She said that they would upscale all existing projects and programmes of partners and Mrs Aisha Buhari, to promote an increase in enrollment, retention and completion rates of girls in schools.
According to her, efforts will be made to reduce harmful traditional practices, including Female Genital Mutilation.
Tallen emphasised that there was a consensus that women empowerment, if well promoted responds to women’s engagement in productive activities that engenders development and poverty reduction.
She added that the ministry’s collaboration with BoI plays a critical role that could guarantee the realisation of the goal of empowerment for women and the development of the economy.
“Under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, we are changing the narratives, as we continue to advocate to bridge gender gaps across many sectors to meet the needs of the almost 100 million female population of the country,” Tallen said.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum said that economic empowerment of women was key to achieving the objectives of financial inclusion, social cohesion, and economic development.
Katagum represented by Mrs Zahira Baba-Ali, Managing Director, Nigeria Commodity Exchange, said the theme of the event was pertinent to drive human rights, equality, and development for women.
She added that the longer the country delay gender equality, the longer its growth and strive for development.
Commenting, Dr Hajo Sani, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Women’s Affairs and Administration, said that women were making great strides in reshaping the country’s socio-economic landscape.
Sani noted that it was important for more women success stories to be told and celebrated, adding that this would help to provide more female role models for the next generation to emulate.
The Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan, said there would be no sustainable development in Africa if women were not economically empowered.
Pitan noted that BOI believes that the empowerment of women was crucial to development, poverty eradication and financial inclusion, which necessitates its creation of a Gender Desk in the bank to support women businesses.
Pitan said that the bank has a series of funding targeted at supporting women businesses at single-digit interest rates.
According to him, BoI is playing a key role to support the proposed first female-owned bank in Nigeria, which has the mandate to support women businesses.
Pitan stressed that there would be minimal development in Nigeria and Africa if efforts were not made to address some of the socio-economic impediments to limits women.
Also, Dr Ngozi Onyia, Chief Executive Officer, Paelon Memorial Clinic, said her clinic has benefited from BoI Small and Medium Enterprises loans three times.
She said that the first was in 2013 to upgrade equipment and expand service delivery, another in 22018 assisted to expand into Assisted Reproduction.
Onyia said that in 2019, under BoI Access to Finance Scheme, financial support was obtained to establish Amai Comprehensive Health Centre.
Mrs Adenike Ogunlesi, Founder, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, said that the financial independence of women was a necessity that was non-negotiable.
Ogunlesi stressed that the numbers of women groaning under pain of lack have to stop, adding that women should be given a fair playing fields.
She added that women were not seeking preferential treatment but equal opportunity to succeed.