‘Government should create Sspecial fund for women entrepreneurs’
Dr. Bashirat Nahibi is the Founder and President of Women Advancement for Economic and Leadership Empower in Africa (WAELE/ARCELFA). She is also a member of the African Union (AU) Steering Committee for the Fund for African Women. In this interview with EMEKA ANUFORO in Abuja, she charged the Nigerian government to take advantage of the current economic recession to empower more women in businesses.She also spoke on the upcoming Summit on African Women Empowerment and Political Participation.
On women as anti-corruption crusaders:
Women are better as anti-corruption crusaders. Women can also play a lot of roles in developing a new society. If we continue to train our children from the beginning to core values, the society will improve. Let’s emphasise values and not money. Money is not everything.
Women have a role in molding the youths from the beginning and in ensuring that they don’t get carried away by what they have. Let’s mold them in such a way that they find happiness by giving back to the society, not what they can acquire from society. The society will be a better place when you start thinking about what you would give than what you would acquire.
Our communities have to stop celebrating wealth. We can’t keep celebrating successes without knowing the source. This is why we find ourselves where we are today.
On increased to fund to boost women empowerment
Nigeria should have a special fund through the Ministry of Women Affairs to fund women. Women are seriously hit by the economic recession Women should be funded to do petty trading to enable them feed their children. A special fund should be set up under the Ministry of women affairs to give loans to the less privileged in the society.The intervention would go a long way in reducing poverty within the African continent.
On Women’s participation in Africa
Rwanda is far ahead of other African countries. We only have two African Heads of States, one in Mauritius and the other in Liberia. We lost the one in Malawi. It has not been easy.
Another woman is contesting in Gambia at their next Presidential elections. We need to be at the forefront. We need to encourage women. Madam Zuma is contesting elections in South Africa. We need to harness our positions. We need to come together. We need to fund ourselves and be at the forefront of whatever is happening and that is why I said this summit is coming at a very important time. It is coming at a critical stage of African women’s life.
We also want to celebrate those women who have been there, that have done something in their communities, those women who have contributed to the development of their countries. We will also celebrate some men who have contributed to women emancipation.
We want to celebrate women who have been at the fore-front of fighting corruption. We want to equally take advantage of the conference to thank our members who have contributed tremendously to women emancipation.
It must be pointed out that we are not seeking sponsors. We will fund ourselves. Women are committed. All those coming from outside Nigeria are buying their tickets because they believe in what we are doing.
On activities of the group
We are at the forefront of empowerment for women. We have visted several refugee camps across Africa and empowered African women in some countries. In Nigeria, we have empowered widows in Adamawa, Benue, Enugu, Cross Rivers, Lagos and Kebbi. We empowered doing 100 widows per state
We have also take relief materials to Chad. We have also taken relief materials to Plateau State where there have been cases of ethno religious crises. We have done a lot.
When we started, we started as an African organization. Later, my colleagues within West Africa indicated interest and then we started the African mission for Mali. We went to Mali to launch the West African regional project in 2005. Ever since we have done a lot of conferences to advance the lot of women.
Right now we have offices in Kenya for the Eastern African sub region. We have offices in Namibia for the Southern African sub region. We have offices in Cape Verde for the West African sub region and an office in Cameroon for the Central African sub region. We also have an office in Algeria for the North African sub region.
I am the West African coordinator of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) Women Agenda cluster. I am one of the 18 African women that are on the board of the African Union Fund for the women of Africa. It is this organization and my work in African that has given me this opportunity.I have delivered a paper in the American Congress. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been very rewarding.
About the conference
We are expecting women from 22 countries. The theme of the conference is African Women, Economic Empowerment and Participation. Without women being involved in the activities of their countries, we will continue to lag behind. Without women having economic empowerment to be able to contribute, to be able to be involved, to be part and parcel of what is happening in their communities, we cannot achieve much in our societies. That is why this conference is concentrating on this thematic area.
We are expecting panelists from eight African countries: Algeria, Tunisia, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritania, Cameroon, and these women are either former ministers in their countries or front runners when it comes to women agenda issues.
One of them is Chair of the African Union ECOSOCC Women Agenda Cluster. Another one is the Executive Secretary of the African of the African Union Women and Gender Cluster. Another one is Executive Secretary of the Women and Gender Cluster. The women are what you call experts.