By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja
Gender inequality in Nigeria is reverberating across the economy, hampering development and hindering the country’s progress, the United Nation Women, has said.
The UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mr. Maxime Houinato, said this during a press conference, Friday, in Abuja.
He said that persistent gender disparities are adversely impacting Nigeria’s economic growth potential, making it imperative for immediate action to address this issue.
Bemoaning women’s limited access to decent employment opportunities in the country, he added that despite their high participation rate in the informal sector, women in Nigeria continue to face discrimination in the formal job market.
“I was also thrilled to meet with the Nigerian exchange group that has decided to start working today with UN Women to launch in 2025 the first gender bonds in Nigeria, which contributions are from various investors into gathering resources to address the lack of opportunity that women suffer from.
“So, those initiatives I find interesting because so far, only the government has been fighting and putting resources for critical elements of gender inequality. But, now we see more and more of the private sector getting interested. Reason being that the gender-based violence and gender inequality that was placed before in the social sector in terms of the humanitarian consideration, and now moved into the economic sector, where we recognize that gender inequality is crippling the economy.
“Women are at the hands of the building of human capital in the country, from education, to health, to sanitation and the suffering of women is having a detrimental impact on the building of that human capital, which is at the center of productivity and economic growth. So, we are happy that both government and the private sector have realized the importance of women in wealth creation. So that gender inequality is no longer an issue of women, but rather an issue of men and the nation.”
He also disclosed that part of his major achievement since he came into Nigeria was a recent landmark effort to address and eradicate GBV with partnership between the UN Women and leading private sector companies to establish a fund worth $25 million.
He said the move aims to support survivors of GBV, drive global advocacy, and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent violence against women.
He also appealed for the Federal Government to commit specific per cent of national budgets and development funds to interventions that address gender disparity in Nigeria.
He disclosed that after an dvocacy meeting with Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagodu, Minister of Budget and National Planning, the Federal Government, “might consider a tax break for private companies that decided to put money on the table to address gender equality issues.”
On her part, the UN Women Representative to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong, in her remark, stated that the financial implication of GBV is enormous and reiterated that if the prevalence of violence against women and girls reduces, family income and earnings will improve and so will the economy of the society at large.