Thousands of women from the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, yesterday converged on the Women Development Centre, Abuja for the launch of the Association of Women in Trade and Agriculture (AWITA).
In a keynote address at the event, the representative of the Minister for State Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Achula Chioma Fidel, said the ministry was ready to help women take advantage of the opportunities in the nation’s continental trade treaties with other countries.
She stated that women contribute about 70 percent of the informal cross-border trade in Africa, adding that attention must be given to them to enhance their relevance in the nation’s economic development drive.
“Given the strategic position of our core mandate, the ministry remain gender sensitive in mainstreaming gender issues in trade facilitations, attracting investment and industrial development,” she said.
The president and convener of the conference, Mrs Ruth Agbo, in an interview said AWITA is a platform designed to give a voice to women in the informal sector of the economy.
“It is a platform that has come to be. A child of necessity, to be a voice for the voiceless informal sector women – the rural women, traders and farmers.
“We created a platform where we want to come together and form a synergy so that we can tap into government’s policies for trade and agriculture and also be relevant by contributing more to the economy of the country as the informal sector that we are,” Mrs Agbo said.
The AWITA president reiterated that there has been a misconception of women being equated with poverty, stressing that “we want to change the narrative. We cannot be called poverty where we are contributing to the growth of the economy. We don’t want to be liabilities, we want to be assets and the only way we can be assets is to help government fulfil it’s policies in trade and agriculture.”