By Victoria Onehi
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Dr Zainab Ahmed, has said the government has put in place policies to bridge the gender- gap in the country.
Ahmed disclosed this at the Gender & Inclusion Summit with the theme Connecting the Dots for a Gender Inclusive Society organised by the Policy Innovation Centre (PIC )in partnership with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) which held in Abuja on Wednesday.
” When we had the COVID 19 pandemic,we designed the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).It was designed to create a lot of jobs.We took the conscious decision that 50 percent of the jobs should be for the women.Also,the ESP targeted small and Medium Enterprise.Some of it was to give loans and grants to them.
” We have the Conditional Cash Transfer.93 percent of the Care givers are women.So,there is a conscious policy decision by government to look at areas were women will benefit more.” She said.
The Minister stated thar in designlng budgets and framework, the Ministry provides guide to MDAs as to how their budget should be gender inclusive and periodically monitor the projects to see that they meet the purpose of gender sensitivity.
Speaking on the United Kingdoms commitment to ensure gender-inclusion,the British High Commisioner to Nigeria Ms Catriana Laing said the UK has three areas focusing on Gender.
“The three Es includes educating girls, empowering women and ending violence against women and girls. The UK has worked on education for decades. Now particularly in the north-east Nigeria where we have supported 1.4 million additional girls going to school.
“On the empowerment side, we recently launched a hundred million programme through the First Bank of Nigeria which will direct funding specifically to women owned enterprises. We are also digitising Humanitarian services and Cash Transfers so that women can receive money directly into their bank account which gives them more empowerment.”she said
Similarly,the United States Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Berty Leonard said globally the United States contributes over $200 billion annually towards programming gender activity and equality.
“In Nigeria the US mission works to promote an environment which supports women’s success and address challenges that hold women back and to empower Nigerian women to do the same.
Fundamentally, we see it as our duty and that everyone who seeks a just and equitable society, to ensure women and girls have opportunities to participate they need in all aspects of life.” she said.
Speaking on the need to create a more equitable society,the President of the Albino Foundation,Mr Jake Ekpelle said the Foundation through support from the European Union has come up with the Nigeria Policy on Albinism which is the first in the world.
Also, that the Foundation has been able to advocate for amendment of a section of the Electoral Act to enable Albinos to vote without hitch during elections.
The Deputy Director,PIC Dr Osasuyi Dirisu, said the centre was set up to improve government policies and programmes using lessons from social and behavioral policies .
“in response to the need for capacity strengthening for gender and development, PIC collaborated with the Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies, University of Ife to develop a five day gender and development course.We started it in April and have about 100 attendees so far from donor organisations, private sectors and NGO
” We are here at the summit and hope to institutionalise and have an opportunity for stakeholders to come together to have real conversation about gender and advanced cause to improving gender equality in Nigeria.”Dirisu said.
The Chairman NESG Mr Niyi Yusuf, said although government,foriegn nations and the private sector are doing so much already,Gender parity is not recovering according to the Gender Gap Report 2022.
He said more needs to be done as the COVID 19 pandemic opened the worlds eyes more to the plight women and other marginalised groups face.
However,the Country Director PLAN International Nigeria,Dr Charles Usie said everyone must take responsibility for the action they take and the dots must be connected by all stakeholders to bring about a gender-inclusive society.