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Minister Seeks Int’l Support to Fund Women Developmental Programmes

Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, who led the Nigerian delegation to the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, recently, has called for international partnerships to enable Nigeria sustain her funding of gender-based developmental programmes.

Senator Alhassan made the call during her presentation at the UNC conference which was held between March 12 and 13 in New York, USA, Aware of the centrality of the empowerment of rural women and girls to the realization of objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, African Union Agenda 2063 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, the Minister pledged that Nigeria will intensify efforts to improve access to productive resources for rural women and girls, as well as protect their fundamental rights.

She therefore used the occasion to solicit support of the global community towards sustaining programmes and projects on women and girls, which she said, were being implemented in the country by the current government.

While the Assembly gathers annually to review individual and collective efforts at improving the living standard of women and children, the Nigerian Minister also drew attention of participants to fundamental issues that constitute critical elements for empowering rural women and girls.

These, she listed to include capacity building, quality education, access to clean and safe water, health care as well as sanitation.

Speaking further, Alhassan highlighted some of the policies initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari towards the empowerment of women, particularly those at the rural area.

She said: “The government of Nigeria in its determination to meet the overarching objectives of poverty eradication and the empowerment of rural women and girls for sustainable development, inherent in Agenda 2030, has taken rigorous steps to initiate and strengthen policies, institutional frameworks, systems and mechanisms aimed at achieving gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.”

Some of the implementable strategies designed to harness the socio-economic potentials of the country’s female population of 83.3 million, according to her, include the development and launch of Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP), which gives prominence to the inclusion and empowerment of women in the rural areas and links national development strategies to Agenda 2030 in an integrated, multi-sectoral and multifaceted manner.

Others include the development of Nigeria’s second National Action Plan UNSCR1325, which focuses on mainstreaming of women in developmental agenda, ensuring peaceful co-existence among Nigerians as well as beefing up national security.

According to the Minister, Nigerian government has equally succeeded in establishing an enabling coordinating instrument as encapsulated in the National Gender Policy of 2016.

Speaking on the girl-child education, the Minister disclosed that the government was implementing with vigour, a universal basic education programme, which was strategically directed at enhancing girl-child education at the grass root level.

“A veritable content of this programme is the Girl Education Project (GEP), which has helped to increase girls’ enrollment and retention in schools and guarantee full productive capacity for future generations of women”, she stated.

She added that the project was augmented by three national awareness campaigns, including “End Violence Against Women and Girls”, “End Female Genital Mutilation” and End Child Marriage.”

The minister also harped on the Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) programme, which was part of the social investment programme, designed to provide one nutritious meal a day to 5.5 million school children, including girls in classes 1-3 of public primary schools.

According to her, over 6 million pupils benefitted from the feeding programme at the end of 2017. Beyond the direct impact on the pupils, the Minister highlighted that local farmers have also benefitted indirectly from the programme.

Also speaking, the National Women Leader, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NAMTs), Mrs Ruth Agbo, expressed need for a friendly marketing network between rural and urban women in trade, where national, regional and international best practices are given through trade fairs/ missions, exhibitions and capacity building. This, she said, “will make us relevant in decision-making process for good governance.”

Achieving Economic Empowerment and the Women Peace and Security Agenda was delivered by Dr. Eleanor Nwadinobi, International Health, Gender and Human rights Expert.

In the paper, she recommended among others, full implementation and funding of Nigeria’s NAP, and recognization of the strength of WPS agenda to address Women’s economic empowerment; identification of women and men, who are ready to work collaboratively in the political space to increase women’s political participation, especially at grass roots level.

She also recommended naming and shaming individuals and groups, who still show gender bias regarding women’s political participation and empowerment; and elimination of hiding place for those who disempower women in the name of exploitative empowerment programmes.

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