Chineme Okafor in Abuja
First Bank Nigeria Limited has empowered 71,253 Nigerian women under its First Gem initiative, the chairman of the bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, has disclosed.
Speaking during a breakout session tagged ‘empowering Nigerian women’ at the recent 25th edition of the annual Nigerian Economic Summit (NES), Awosika, stated that through the First Gem, the bank has identified and was gradually clearing out challenges that stop women in Nigeria from becoming economically productive.
Awosika’s disclosure of the impacts of the First Gem, coincided with the recognition accorded the bank by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) for fostering nation building through its support for the summit.
The NESG gave the bank its ‘Long Service Corporate Award’ for distinguished financial and technical support over 20 consecutive unbroken years, thus demonstrating loyalty, steadfastness, passion and partnership towards nation building and economic development.
Awosika, at the session however highlighted the need for Nigeria to bring its women folk into its economic growth plan. She said this was necessary to guarantee comprehensive development.
She equally noted that there were certain barriers to the economic development of women that need to be removed.
“The statistics of Nigeria’s population says that women about 48.5 per cent and men are 49.5. to save any argument, let us say it is 50-50 statistically. And if you are a businessperson, imagine that you have 50 per cent of your assets locked up and not utilised at all, and you expect to compete with your neighbors and excel. You are already disadvantaged.
“When we are talking about women, it is business and national development issue. It is not gender issue. We will have a balanced life when women get to deliver their share of what is required to build a nation,” said Awosika.
According to her, for Nigeria to grow its economy, it must maximise the value of all her human resources, including its female population, as well as finding out ways to take out the limitations that hold women back from actively participating in economic development.