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Despite Buhari’s assurances, 2023 proposed budget undermines women, group decries

By Tina Abeku, Abuja
10 November 2022   |   4:51 am
Following a 56 percent budget line reduction for Women’s Economic Empowerment, (WEE), projects in the proposed 2023 national budget, the National Council for Women Societies, (NCWS), has lamented that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the economic advancement of women, there is almost no money in the budget to support them.

NCWS president, Lami Adamu Lau brief the media on low allocations in proposed 2023 budget allocation to Womens Economic Empowermen,(WEE), Wednesday in Abuja

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Following a 56 percent budget line reduction for Women’s Economic Empowerment, (WEE), projects in the proposed 2023 national budget, the National Council for Women Societies, (NCWS), has lamented that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the economic advancement of women, there is almost no money in the budget to support them.

President NCWS, Hajiya Lami Adamu-Lau, made this known at a media briefing organized by the NCWS in collaboration with the Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development, (PAWED) and the Development Research Projects Center, (DrPC), yesterday in Abuja.

She pointed out that on the 7th of October 2022, the President had stated clearly that the 2023 budget is designed to harness the potential of all Nigerian women to enable them to productively contribute to the economy by declaring, “We will continue to prioritise women’s empowerment programmes across various MDAs in 2023”, sadly this was not reflected in the proposed budget.

The group noted with alarm the sharp decline in WEE allocation from N103, billion in the 2022 budget N58 billion Naira in the proposed 2023 budget the allocation which she said is a humongous 56 percent departure and a very unhealthy trend.

“When we at the NCWS reviewed the 2023 budget estimates submitted by Mr President we were alarmed to see that despite Mr President’s commitment to the economic advancement of our women, there is almost no money in the budget to support women.

“The allocation to WEE in the 2022 budget was 103 billion Naira. In the 2023 budget, the allocation to WEE is 58 billion Naira. This is a reduction of 56% of the budget line for women’s economic empowerment in the 2023 budget compared to the budget for the year 2022,” she said

According to her, this reduction portends grave implications for women’s economic advancement because “Not only has the money for women’s economic advancement programs been cut but there are now fewer Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) carrying out WEE programs in 2023 compared to 2022. In this year, 2022 a total of 164 MDAs put in WEE activities into the budget for this year 2022. But for 2023 only 51 MDAs are having any activities to do with women’s economic empowerment.

“Another issue of great concern to us in the NCWS is the severe reduction of the budget for the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.”

While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and members of the National Assembly to match their words with action by prioritizing the areas of concern through an upward review of the allocations, The NCWS president tasked the government and stakeholders to increase interventions to recent flood victims to provide a level playing ground for women’s participation in politics.

“We hope that the Nigerian women will be given what is due to them and that is why we are strongly supporting women that wish to contest for political offices and we are advocating their participation.

“The throwing away of our five gender bills is something that we did not forget and it is enough to tell us that we need to be on our feet. We did not sleep over this matter and we are putting in more effort.” She adds.

Speaking on the importance of mainstreaming gender and the importance of mainstreaming gender in the national budget, the Director of programs, DrPC, Dr Stanley Ukpai, further explained that “Comparing the 2022 budget, the proposed 2023 budget and haven is gone through all the estimates of the MDAs implementing these women’s economic empowerment projects, we noted that the number of projects and initiatives have reduced and also the allocated sums across the MDAs have reduced.”

“This is a big gap for a country that has a large population of women and needs to be intentional about gender and investing in women’s economic empowerment.

“As a matter of fact, Mr. President himself had said that he was going to ensure women’s economic empowerment was going to be leveraged across all the implementing MDAs. So the budget doesn’t reflect that intention to invest in women and we know that if a country is serious about economic development, they need to still consider investing in their women, I think this is a big gap.”