By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has called for the socio-economic empowerment of Nigerian women and girls in order to achieve the desired strong economic growth in the country.
She spoke at the National Women Conference of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Abuja, yesterday.
Her words, “The economic and social empowerment of women and girls is critical to our collective vision of a prosperous and resilient Nigeria. It is therefore imperative that we prioritize the advancement of women in all spheres of society, and specifically in areas relating to their socio-economic empowerment
“If we are to have a stronger and more inclusive economy, it is crucial that we take a long term and strategic approach to ensuring that women are economically empowered.
“Global research shows that, despite their contributions, many women remain economically disempowered. Women are especially vulnerable to poverty and are more likely to be affected by poor service delivery and instabilities.”
The minister identified lack of access to resources and cultural limitations, as some of the worst obstacles before women and called for their removal, to enable women to maximize their potential.
She said, “Women face challenges when it comes to accessing resources, including financial services, property, and other assets. Additionally, women are less likely to receive critical education, skills and training opportunities
“These challenges are amplified by several underlying factors, including: inadequate policies and regulatory frameworks aimed at identifying and protecting the rights of women, and ensuring equal representation and access across various sectors; and socio-economic norms and cultural factors.”
Mrs. Ahmed called for the development and implementation of policies, regulatory frameworks, and programmes “that are inclusive and gender-sensitive; and we must remove the socio-economic and cultural barriers that prevent women from participating fully in society and from reaping the economic benefits of their participation.
“This is especially important given the evidence that gender-neutral policies are often applied in ways that exclude and disenfranchise women stakeholders and other vulnerable communities.”
Mrs. Ahmed noted, “The economic empowerment of women and girls is a necessary driver for our country’s development.”
The minister said her team adopted Gender Responsive Budgeting in the preparation of the recently approved 2022 Budget.
According to her, the step was taken, following months of stakeholder- consultations, with support from the International Monetary Fund.
The Budget Office, she said, would be working with MDAs on implementation of the gender budgeting provisions, with an initial focus on those sectors that have been considered critical to human capital development, including health, education, and humanitarian affairs.
She called for partnership among the various levels of government, Civil Society Organisations and the private sector, urging all stakeholders to show greater interests in the empowerment of women in the country.
According to her, “By economically empowering women and ensuring their full participation in society (particularly in leadership and decision-making roles), we can ensure improved economic development outcomes for all.”