The Federal Government on Wednesday called on banks to set up gender desks and prioritise potential female borrowers.
While describing women as drivers of the African economy, the government said that more women needed to be encouraged to go into technically oriented fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum, represented by the Director of Commodity and Export Department, Suleiman Audu, said these at the second series of African Women Trade Conference 2022 organised by Organization of Women in International Trade, in collaboration with other OWIT African countries with the theme, ‘Positioning African women for the next big opportunity in the regional and global marketplace’.
According to her, as part of efforts to position women to enable them benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, some things should be considered.
She said they are, “Preparation for gender inclusion in national AfCFTA strategies and policies. Companies have to invest in women directly by integrating gender policies and practices with global diversity: Women’s personal safety when determining working conditions and hours.
“Banks should set up gender desks with a view to go the extra mile in identifying and prioritising targets of potential women borrowers as a platform for ascertaining and providing financial empowerment from African Development Bank to support women-led farmers based associations and MSMEs to promote agriculture in certain African countries.
“Greater efforts need to be made to provide women with access to technical education and on-the-job training. Targeted entrepreneurship training can help women entrepreneurs grasp the opportunities that open markets create and calibrate their businesses toward those opportunities through creativity and innovation.”
According to her, it was necessary for women to be able to pioneer scientific innovations that were inclusive, and to shape business trends.
She called for synergy and cooperation among all Africans, regardless of background, to be gender sensitive in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area if it must attain its desired goal.
The minister said, “With the launch of trading under the AfCFTA in January 2021, the expectations are high as relates to the expanded business prospects for women-led businesses, which will unlock the potential for African women to grow their businesses from micro to macro enterprises.”