Policy Innovation Centre (PIC) of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) organized the first ever gender inclusion Summit seeking to establish transformative ways of achieving gender equality and accelerate the actualization of the SDGs as well as positive outcomes for men and women.
The summit on Wednesday in Abuja, brought together practitioners from public, private and development sector to co-create actionable strategies for addressing gaps in gender responsive governance, policy and programming in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest gender disparity, statistics say it is among the 10 percent of countries with the highest levels of gender inequality. Even with several gender discusses, achieving gender equality in Nigeria remains a tall order.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, in her keynote address promised to work with NGOs to reduce the prevalence of gender violence and support women to achieve greater productivity and full gender inclusivity in Nigeria.
The US agency for International Development, USAID Five-Year Plan that began in 2020 highlights gender inclusion as a cross-cutting issue required to achieve Nigeria’s development objectives.
She said that in 2030, the vision would see to it that Nigeria has made sustainable progress in SDG 2,3 and 5.
“Statistics so far has shown that women are 22 percent less than men in the labour force, and with gender norms shifting with women at 47.9 and 59.6 percent for women and men respectively”
“In terms of school participation, 58 percent of girls are in school as against 74 percent for boys, and regretted that many of the girls leave school without completion”.
To stem the tide, she said they would boost girls interest and participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in order to advance their career and fulfil their dreams, thereby becoming role models for younger girls and women.
“Women participation in politics is essential and Nigeria sets the tone for the rest of the continent. Representation of women with only four percent in elective positions is poor. We will work with local group to protect women and girls from violence during the elections,” she added.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing added the COP27 which was launched with a very large program of 98 million dollars is designed to support livelihoods but particularly with female entrepreneurs who are struggling to adapt their farming methods to climate change.
With this information and data reeled out, it is certain Nigeria will be economically better if women are included not just in the leadership roles but also in decision-making processes.
The Deputy Head of the EU to Nigeria, Alexandre Borges-Gomes speaking at the Summit with the theme: ‘Connecting the dots for a gender inclusive society’ said allowing women and girls to fulfil their potential is servicing two- third of the entire population. He said killing of stereotypes often disguised as culture is what society must keep an eye on, as the EU has concluded plans to make work towards ending sexual and gender-based violence, equal participation and leadership for women, educating girls and empowering women among others.
“Less than 50 percent of women has paid jobs as of 2021 as against 76 percent for men. In 2025, 80 percent of EU activities should contribute to gender empowerment. The EU is working towards ending sexual and gender-based violence, educating girls and empowering women” he added.
“In gender inequality, Nigeria is among the highest in the world with a position of 139 out of 149. It is yet to reach it potential in harnessing the potential of women and girls”.
Ekaete Umoh, Country Director, CBM Global Disability Initiative speaking as a panelist discussing “Together yet divided; exploring a diversity, equity and inclusion agenda beyond 2023” emphasized that lack of access at all levels have affected negatively the participation of persons with disabilities in civic activities especially women with disabilities. She also said that to enhance disability inclusion, we should be strategic in removing the barriers that hinders the participation of persons with disabilities. Encourage participation of persons with disability by taking cognizance of the needs or reasonable accommodation of PWDs in all programs and policies.
Jake Epelle, CEO of The Albino Foundation (TAF) speaking as a panelist discussing the same topic, highlighted some of the activities of TAF on adversity and inclusion. He informed that Able2Vote Project is to promote the participation of PWDs across the country in the 2023 elections. It will also enhance the participation of persons with disabilities in governance. He emphasized that PWDs are disadvantaged in so many ways and there is need for deliberate programs and projects targeting PWDs in order for them to contribute their own quota to the development of the country.