ECOWA, WEFON seek economic empowerment for Edo women
To ensure that women in Edo State have access to policies that empower them for economic growth, stakeholders have drafted and developed a legislative bill, which will be the first women’s economic empowerment rights law in Nigeria.
Championed by Echoes of Women in Africa (ECOWA) Initiatives and Women For Fairness and Equity Organisation (WEFON) in partnership with Urgent Action Fund Africa and the Edo State government, the legislative bill is titled ‘A Bill for Economic Empowerment Affirmative Action for Urban Poor and Rural Women in Edo State.
Speaking at a sensitisation workshop on the bill held in Benin City, Founder, ECOWA, Louisa Eikhomun-Agbonkhese, said Governor Godwin Obaseki and his wife, Betsy, have been very gender friendly and committed to women’s development.
“The state has made concerted efforts in engaging women in economic empowerment programmes amongst which are the N2 billion MSMEs fund to women empowerment by Bank of Industry; Social Investment Programme (SIP) Conditional Cash transfer by the Federal Government; National Directorate of Employment (NDE) unemployment funds for 300 women, amongst others,” she said.
She stressed that there was an urgent need for a policy that addresses the provisions of economic rights of women in programmes and projects of the state.
“The law will respond to provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Women’s Protocol of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women and Optional Protocol, the Sustainable Development Goal five on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, the Nigerian Constitution and the National Gender Policy.”
In his remarks, Commissioner for Youth and Gender Issues, Andrew Adaze Ewanta, noted that women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion have been recognised as key to achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Ewanta added: “The disadvantages and discrimination faced by women and girls severely limit their ability to lift themselves out of poverty. As a result, women are more likely to work in informal, low-income jobs with exploitative and unequal working conditions, and have restricted access to affordable, quality financial products and services, like a savings account or small loan.”
“Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a path for poverty reduction and for advanced gender equality. Women need to be empowered to build better livelihoods, earn more income and create businesses that provide jobs and boost local economies.
“As a result, any collaborative effort amongst stakeholders that focuses on supporting women to access financial services, participate in dignified work, to thrive as entrepreneurs and small-scale producers; changing the discriminatory social norms and economic structures, laws, policies and practices that marginalise women, should be encouraged and given utmost support.”
The event had in attendance government officials, lawmakers, lawyers, civil society organisations, financial institutions, women groups, custodians of traditions, and religious and youth groups.