Women have been urged to foster greater collaboration amongst themselves and to continue to innovate in the face of the growing negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure that no one is left behind.
The call was made Thursday, March 25, at an event, 2021 Women National Business Agenda Policy Dialogue organized by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) in Abuja with the theme, “Women Leadership and Economic Equality.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, noted that as the world, including Nigeria continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, climate change, gender inequalities conflicts and other vices, “it is clearer that women’s leadership is key to address these challenges” the minister said.
She stressed that despite past efforts of the government at integrating the women’s question into the national development agenda, gender inequalities remain pervasive within most Nigerian spaces, hence, the current push for all hands to be on deck to ensure women’s empowerment and a sustainable development of the country
According to her, “In Nigeria, we have experienced an apparent deficit of women in the formal sector of the economy. Women are estimated to own only 20 percent of enterprises in the formal sector and hold only 11.7 percent as Board of Directors in the country. The situation is partly explained by women’s limited access to finance, which is worsened by their lack of access to acceptable collateral.
“As more women ascend to corporate ladder, more women entrepreneur associations have emerged in the country to challenge and address some of the barriers they encounter in financing their businesses. The existence of these groups have helped to shape advocacy and sensitization for supporting women entrepreneurship as important to women’s success.
“There is a need to understand that identifying women’s empowerment and their engagement in entrepreneurship activities is key to attaining economic prosperity”, she said.
She also stated that the continuous delays in closing the gender gaps makes achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063 to remain elusive and perhaps a mere illusion, adding that investing in women and girls and ending gender inequality would not only set Nigeria on a double-digit economic growth track, but would also significantly contribute to meeting our development goals.
“There is a growing consensus that women empowerment, if well promoted responds to women’s engagement in productive activities that engenders development and poverty reduction. In all of these, collaboration is key. Let us change our strategy by loving and supporting each other”, she emphasized.
Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, while noting that women are by far more intelligent and should express their brilliance in their job, urged them to collaborate and support women in the rural areas to grow.
In his words, “Please don’t ask that something should be set aside for you, ask for your right. Ask yourselves basic questions on what to do to alleviate poverty”.
Also, a Trustee Member, ANWBN, Iyalode Alaba Lawson urged the women to join hands together to make Africa and Nigeria great, adding that in unity is strength
“If we can unite, we can get ourselves together, if we can work together, we can work far and make a good impact in this great country”, she said.
Earlier, the National Coordinator, ANWBN, Mrs Modupe Oyekunle, stated that the coalition which was put together seven years ago with 52 Associations has five key priority areas which are: Insecurity; Poor road network; Lack of power; Gender inequality; and Access to finance
While noting that these areas need urgent attention, she commended the Government’s effort, adding that ANWBN will first commend what has been done before making a recommendation, as only focussing on recommendation might erode what has been done.