The fate of both Nigeriaâ€™s 2020 target and Millennium Development Goals hinges substantially on its ability to drive an entrepreneurial revolution that suitably develops and taps the latent abilities of its massive female population. The following are 7 creative proposals that could make it happen:
I. Introducing legal reforms to ensure equal rights of women to ownership, inheritance and financial control; with a view to reinforcing their special skills and advantages and leveraging them for immediate and long_term macro_economic gains, at both local and national levels.
II. Reprioritising budgetary outlays and official expenditure models with the specific objective of improving gender equality, through the introduction of special schemes and programmes that effectively encourage womenâ€™s involvement in entrepreneurial activities.
III. Enforcing equitable gender participation through the development of focussed entrepreneurial activity for women that takes their socio_cultural, legal and economic constraints into account. Policy changes must be initiated to overcome hurdles in the gainful involvement of women in viable enterprises.
IV. Initiating government incentive programmes for existing and emerging enterprises that proactively involve women in different hierarchies. Educating present and future entrepreneurs on the unique business and social advantages they stand to derive from this dynamic group.
V. Facilitating partnerships between women and financial, advisory and support agencies; in a way that compensates for their lack of formal business acumen, experience and access to funding. Fostering partnerships between women entrepreneurs in related sectors to help share expertise and resources.
VI. Instituting effective start_up and ongoing support structures with safety net provisions to provide continuous financial, technical and know_how assistance and minimise failure rates. Ensuring ground level efficacy of such measure through continuous monitoring and survey.
VII. Enhancing accountability on women empowerment issues at both state and federal government levels through unbiased assessment of executive agencies and relevant state_sponsored programmes. Suitably highlighting achievements and deficiencies to enable constructive evolution of such practices.
In terms of subjective ground reality, these suggestions are by no means definitive or exhaustive; however, they do hold up the broad framework that any substantial policy redirection must incorporate in order to achieve the sustainable and accelerated economic growth Abuja has projected. Localised adaptation is necessary for each guideline in order to suitably address historical and regional imperatives. Further, there is a considerable amount of introspection and groundwork that must be undertaken before these parameters can be put in place.
Basic human development initiatives, especially those related to easy and universal access to healthcare and modern education, are paramount. Nigeria has inherited a broad spectrum of fundamental deficiencies concerning infrastructure, logistics and power that have to be sufficiently addressed beforehand. There are additional and considerable risks attending to policy changes that have to be both acknowledged and anticipated.
For the purpose of encouragement, what Nigerian leaders and policy makers would perhaps do well to take heart in is an old aphorism: one that says you invest in the entire community when you invest in women!