Several Nigerian government policies and plans in the last 20 years have failed to address and incorporate the needs of women economic empowerment despite their numerical strength and contribution of women in the nation’s economy.
The Executive Director, Development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC), Dr Judith-Ann Walker, disclosed this in Lagos during a 3-day capacity building organized by dRPC under the Partnership For Advancing Women Economic Development (PAWED), and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
“Although Nigerian women account for 41% ownership of micro-businesses in Nigeria with over 23 million female entrepreneurs, making Nigeria among the highest entrepreneurs globally, there is insufficient real economic empowerment and inclusion for women across the real economic sectors,” she said.
She added that there is increasing global awareness that empowering women yields a high return on investment, this is because women are integral part of the nation’s work force and are present at all along any upstream economic chain either formally or informally.
Represented by the dRPC Director Projects, Dr Stanley Ukpai, Judith said between 1999 and 2020, the Nigerian government developed several national development plans, and these include, the National economic Directions, The National Economic and Development Strategy, Vision 202020, Seven Points Agenda, Transformation Agenda, Economic recovery growth Plan, and the Economic Sustainability plan. All these, she said, have not addressed women’s economic empowerment needs.
The training, she added, is therefore, organized to provide skills on techniques, and strategies needed to advocate for improved inclusion of women in real economic opportunities.
“This capacity building, we believe, will help women groups in Nigeria to work together as coalitions with role differentiations to empower them to demand for their rights in the economic space through participation in the design, implementation, and evaluation of economic policies in Nigeria,’’ she added.
Supported by EpiAfric, Yellow Brick Road, Albright Stonebridge Group, and the HIVE, the workshop brought women entrepreneurship groups across Nigeria to develop their capacities on policy advocacy and communication as the skills needed to advocate for increased women’s participation in the economy.
The representative of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mrs Bosun Solarin, Chairman, Export Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries, charged the government at all levels on closure of gender gaps for women’s access to property, finance and decent work which are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He emphasized the need for the government to explore available initiatives and deploy needed resources towards the cause of women and children in Nigeria.