Finance Minister Canvasses Women Empowerment for Stronger Economic Growth

Zainab Ahmed
By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has called on all tiers of government to put measures in place for strategic approach towards establishing gender parity in the society, saying wonen empowerment remains a recipe for stronger economies.
Ahmed stated this in a keynote address, which she delivered in Abuja, Tuesday at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) 2019 International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Investing  for Equality.’
 According to the minister, economically-empowered women will guarantee stronger economies, a statement by her media aide, Paul Ella Abechi, said.
She said: “Given the challenges we are facing, it is critical that we take a long term and strategic approach to establishing gender parity, and ensuring that women are economically empowered, resulting in stronger economies overall.
 “It is my distinct pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the achievements of women and to engage in an important dialogue regarding what we must do to ensure continued investment in and support of gender equality in Nigeria.
“It is well established that the economic empowerment of women and girls is a key driver of economic growth and improved development outcomes, ultimately leading to improved economic resiliency. It is therefore imperative that we prioritise the advancement of women in all spheres of society, and specifically in areas relating to their socio-economic empowerment.
“Today’s event provides a unique opportunity for us to reflect individually and collectively about our own respective journeys as women (and men), and decide what we can and must do to ensure that we reach our gender parity goals. Gender equality is critical to ensuring inclusive and sustainable development, and achieving our goals under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
While appreciating the efforts of the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in improving the place of women in the bank, with 29 per cent of the employees as women, 29 per cent in top management and 27 per cent of women in the board as it stands currently, she tasked the governor and his deputies to scale it up to 50 per cent.
Speaking further on the challenges and progress made so far in empowering women, she said: “While significant progress has been made in addressing gender inequality issue both globally and domestically, and across different subject matter areas, there is still more work to be done. Research shows that despite their contributions, many women remain economically disempowered.
“Women account for a disproportionate percentage of the world’s population living in poverty (estimated at 70%), and are more likely to be affected by poor service delivery and instability. A 2018 Global Gender Gap Report produced by the World Economic Forum indicates that at the current rate, it will take an astounding 108 years to close the global gender gap, with the economic and political empowerment gender gaps needing 202 and 107 years to close respectively.”
The minister noted: “In the Nigerian context, the factors inhibiting gender equality mirror what is happening on the global scene. Women face challenges when it comes to accessing resources, including financial services, property, and other assets. Additionally, women are less likely to receive critical education, skills and training opportunities, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields.
“These challenges are compounded by issues of work-life balance, with many women opting out of leadership tracks due to home commitments and inadequate support at work. For these and other reasons, we are seeing fewer women in leadership positions than we should.”