Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Gender Equality, a Criteria for Success of Vision 20 - 2020 - UN

Nigeria needs to ensure equal participation of women in economic, social and political activities, if it is to achieve the objectives of Vision 20:2020, a UN official said.

The Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, Ms Michelle Batchelet, gave the insight when she visited the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on Friday in Abuja.

"If you want to get to 20 in 20:20, you need to ensure 50:50 - that is equal participation of women and men.

"So, that explains why we believe in economic empowerment of women and gender budgeting because sometimes you have a lot of good ideas or intensions but no budget allocated.

"And usually also gender perspectives are not seen, some already believe that gender perspective is only about giving money targeting women."

She congratulated Okonjo-Iweala for embarking on programmes geared towards women empowerment.

She said she was in Nigeria to identify areas of collaboration between the UN and Nigeria and how to help to advance government's effort in empowering women.

"Wherever you think that we could useful, don't hesitate, because we have made alliance with three home agencies like IFAD and others." Batchelet urged the minister to ensure that omen were involved in the generation of project adding that it would help them to play their role effectively.

The executive director urged the minister to ensure that women empowerment remained a priority, saying: "If you have any unused money in coffers, please don't forget the women."

At the CBN, she commended the apex bank for of its policies that favoured women and called for more empowerment of women entrepreneurs through the micro-finance banks.

She urged the bank to ensure that women are given incentives at a minimal interest rate to enable them development their own business.

"I highlight the importance of CBN in monitoring the activities of the micro finance banks to ensure that available credit facilitate significant percentage of women borrowers."

Speaking earlier, Okonjo-iweala said that women empowerment was among the top priority of the present administration.

She said that government was working hard to develop the agricultural sector to ensure that women were well-equipped as major participants in the sector.

According to her, government is ready to put up additional budget for five ministries if they will agree to create programmes that will make the lives of women better.

In his remarks, Sanusi noted that the apex bank had already started ensuring women equality by declaring 2012 a year for women empowerment.

He said that the bank had engaged in many policies that geared towards ensuring balance in service among men and women.

The CBN chief said that the apex bank would soon launch Micro Finance Fund which 60 per cent would be dedicated for women According to the CBN governor, the number of women in the management cadre of the bank has been increased.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina led the delegation.

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