Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab S. Ahmed has said everybody has a role to play in ensuring gender parity and in reaching back and supporting the next generation of young women.
Ahmed who was speaking on Tuesday at the 2019 International Women’s Day Commemorative Event organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria, broke down the different roles different strata of society need to play.
Speaking at the event tagged ‘Investing for Equality,’ she said, “At the government level, it is important to design and implement policies and programmes in a way that ensures women’s participation at all levels.
“At the individual level, we each must take the time to support and mentor the women and girls in our lives, and we should each feel empowered as agents of change working towards ensuring equality.”
She stressed that it is only when women are empowered and their full participation in society, especially at leadership and decision-making roles, that there can be improved economic development outcomes for all.
While women in Nigeria face challenges with accessing resources including financial services, and property, among others, these are not unique to the country as women the world over, face the same.
Buttressing this further, Ahemd said, “Women are less likely to receive critical education, skills and training opportunities, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. These challenges are compounded by issues of work-life balance, with many women opting out of leadership tracks due to home commitments and inadequate support at work. For these and other reasons, we are seeing fewer women in leadership positions than we should.”
The Minister who, against the backdrop of these challenges, made a call to action towards investing for equality, said a long-term approach to establishing gender parity, was critical, to ensuring that women are economically empowered, resulting in stronger economies overall.
According to her, women must have a ‘seat at the table,’ and be co-creators of any strategic interventions aimed at ensuring gender parity in the long run.
Women need to lead, drive and shape the gender parity agenda, supported by the male folk as it is not enough to simply have women in leadership positions. “They must be given the support and tools with which to advance gender equity,” Ahmed said.
To ensure this happens, she said the process needs to include dialogue and partnership with women-focused groups, in the private sector and in civil society organizations.
Ahmed also stressed that it is important, for government to continue to develop and implement policies, regulatory frameworks, and programmes that are inclusive and gender-sensitive, to remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevent women from participating fully in society and from reaping the economic benefits of their participation.
While encouraging the support and development of targeted interventions, in areas like, access to financing for women-owned businesses, particularly MSMEs, and boosting financial inclusion and financial literacy amongst women and girls, the Minister said, human capital development outcomes for women and girls through targeted government spending in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan priorities, should be improved.
While commending the CBN as a participant in the is regard, she called for a budgeting process that is more gender-sensitive through the incorporation of gender-based budgeting. Adding that, “We must continue to ensure that gender inequalities with respect to access to information are identified and addressed.”
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