June 10, 2024

Inflation: Centre demands socio-economic empowerment for female-headed households


By Chioma Obinna

Worried about the impact of the rising cost of goods and services on the rightsholders/female-headed households, the Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre (MAMA Centre) has called for a targetted socio-economic empowerment for female headed households at all levels.

The Centre observed that prior to the rising inflation, Nigerian women have been disproportionately affected by poverty, socio-economic hardship, discrimination and exploitation across spheres including in politics, paid employment, inheritance as well as the informal private sector, where the recurring illegal and multiple taxes/levies cripple financial capacity and earning progression of women.

“We recall that women, including the rightsholders, have been marginalised in all spheres of the economy, including various inequalities that featured in under-paid or poorly paid employment rewards and other benefits. As a result, rightsholders constitute the vulnerable and socio-economic deprived group whose families live below the poverty line, estimated at $1.90 per person per day in 2019 World Bank Report.

“While an estimated 82.1% of women in Nigeria actively participate in the informal sector, such as agriculture and small businesses, their earning and financial capacity are hampered by multiple/illegal taxes—unlawful compulsory payments collected by the government without appropriate legal backing through intimidation and harassment of the women.”

Making the demand in a statement, the Executive Director, MAMA Centre, Mrs Chioma Kanu expressed worry that the huge budgetary allocation to various empowerment interventions at national and sub-national policy levels have failed to address the socio-economic plight of women, for lack of proper consultation, needs assessment and accountability at community levels.

Kanu said: “More importantly, we further observed that the going general raise in cost of living in Nigeria has exposed women without adequate policy measures, has to a large extent amplified socio-economic and financial burdens on the women population in all spheres — especially the female-headed households, which are already rendered incapacitated to provide for themselves and their dependant families.

“This is in addition to the continued physical and emotional abuses that women, including the rights-holders, endure in their various homes and communities.”

She reiterated the position that gender equality is an imperative for progress on socio-economic emancipation and development in societies across the world.

She called for adequate policy attention to address the huge differences in the types of inequality faced by Nigerian women—from cultural representation, political inclusion, socio-economic capacity, education attainment to domestic burdens, and child marriage.

Continuing, she said: “We uphold that adequate investment in women’s socio-economic empowerment at all levels will set a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth in Nigeria; as women contribute tremendously to the economy, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.

“Just as promoting women’s economic justice and rights and closing gender gaps across spheres in the country and at community levels are key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals.”

Kanu said they are not unaware that women constitute more than half of the population in most states in Nigeria, having their own right with potential, wisdom, talents and skill that they can contribute to develop the country.

ShebWe further commended the resilience of MAMA Centre’s rightsholders across Udi Local Government of Enugu state under the aegis of Accountability for Empowerment project supported by Voice Nigeria for their tireless effort at demanding policy accountability on abandoned livelihood road projects that have potential to positively enhance their socio-economic status.

She added that they are seriously perturbed by the existing disparity in women’s access to basic infrastructural services like water, combined with an expectation of household duties and limited employment opportunities especially in the rural areas, where women spend larger part of their productive time shouldering an unequal burden of gathering water and wood for their families.

She argued that many women farmers have significantly less access to, control over, and ownership of land and other productive assets compared to their male counterparts in various parts of the country.
“This includes poor policy attention towards livelihood projects that have potential to contribute meaningfully to women’s socio-economic development and self-reliance.

“We demand an enabling policy environment to facilitate women’s access to socio-economic assets such as land and loans to secure their active participation in economic leadership and the overall national development.

“This includes targeted policy attention and intervention towards the completion of abandoned livelihood projects that have potential to positively impact women’s socio-economic development across communities,” she added

The Centre further called for increased sensitisation and awareness for women in the informal sector on the appropriate tax/levy through harmonised structure, system, and process that prevent or sanction unscrupulous activities in the tax regime.

“We also demand increased policy focus in encouraging women participation in technological innovation, entertainment, inclusive workplaces, socio-economic and political empowerment, health education and their visibility in creativity.

“We on this note call for increased women’s and girls’ educational attainment to promote economic empowerment and inclusion as well as sustainable economic growth. This includes more opportunities for upskilling and re-skilling that keep pace with rapid technological transformations and enhanced income generation.

“We also demand targeted actions and policy intervention in increasing girls’ access to education to support them in making informed choices that will enhance their earning capacity and potential across spheres, to a live secured and productive life,” Kanu added.