The Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Transport and Communications, Anne Berner, has called for more commitment by nations of the world in improving their investment in women, saying that women empowerment are key to economic success. And that no economy can afford to ignore the huge potentials such investment offers.
Speaking at the16th Meeting of Nordic and African Foreign Ministers in Abuja, recently with a theme ‘Ensuring Sustainable Development through Trade and Investment: The Africa-Nordic Engagement’, Berner noted that education remains a vital tool in the development process of any nation. Adding that Finland success story centres on her belief and commitment to ensuring high quality education is accessible to all.
“Education is an important factor contributing to economic growth, and an area where Nordic partners have added value. In Finland, we believe that the key to our economic success has been in ensuring high-quality education for all. What is very clear is that girls’ education makes economic sense, in addition to being just and fair. Investment in women boosts economic development, competitiveness, job creation and GDP. No economy can afford to ignore such a huge potential.”
Stressing on the timeliness and importance of the theme, the Finnish minister said that it would dominate a prominent space in the meeting’s agenda. Speaking on the strong Nordic-African relations, the minister noted that what started as a traditional development cooperation with a few countries has developed into something much more.
Speaking also, the Ambassador of Finland to Nigeria, Ms. Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury noted that the meeting gave a unique opportunity for stakeholders to discuss important issues linked to trade, investment, peace and development. She added that trade promotion is her main focus in Nigeria. “Last year we had a very successful visit to Nigeria by our Deputy Minister for External Economic Relations, with a business delegation, and I am looking forward to more exchanges and increased trade between our countries. There are many more win-win opportunities, and mutually beneficial trade relations can go a long way in promoting sustainable development, and a better life for Africans as well as the Nordics.”
The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama along with his counterpart, the Minister of Communication, Barrister Adebayo Shittu and several other African ministers, noted that the meeting availed the participants an opportunity to hold a fruitful bilateral talks with participants and that both sides were keen to and expressed openness to further cooperation in several areas.
Finland is one of the five Nordic countries that in addition consist of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. They cooperate closely in the Nordic Council, and have had common labour market and free movement of citizens since the 1950s. They share an economic and social model – market economy combined with welfare state – and are all well developed economies with a strong emphasis on good governance and gender equality.