British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has said that the United, (UK), Kingdom government has launched a $100 million, (about four hundred billion naira), the program through the first bank of Nigeria as direct funding specifically to women-owned enterprises in Nigeria.
She made this known at the ongoing gender and inclusion summit organized by the Policy Innovation Center, (PIC), an initiative of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, yesterday in Abuja.
She said the investment is part of the implementation of the UK’s three Es projects, namely Educating girls, Empowering women and Ending violence against women and girls.
“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 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 programmes through the first bank of Nigeria which will direct funding specifically to women-owned enterprises,” she said.
Laing explained that gender rights are basic human rights and everyone is entitled to them but there are social norms, religious norms and behavioural norms which are used as excuses for not making progress on gender equality.
She adds, “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.
United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard has called on government and International partners to prioritize streamlining policies towards closing gender parity gaps. She said gave priority to the US government which is why it is investing over $200 billion annually towards programming our gender activity and equality globally.
According to her, “In Nigeria, the US mission works to promote an environment that supports women’s success and addresses challenges that hold women back and to empower Nigerian women to do the same.
“The upcoming 2023 elections present a critical opportunity to include more women in leadership positions in government. And we encourage women not only to vote on election day but also to consider running for office at all levels of government in future elections.
“This campaign season presents an opportunity to demand candidates prioritise policies and legislations for women and girls.
Speaking on gender equality in the workplace and employment opportunity, Deputy Head of the European Union delegation to Nigeria, Alexandre Borges-Gomes, said less than 50 percent of women in Nigeria have paid jobs against 76 percent of men, according to a recent survey.
Deputy Director, PIC, Dr Osasuyi Dirisu explained that the is the first national-level body of its kind for applying behavioural insights and other innovative policy tools in Africa.
She said the PIC works in several policy areas such as financial and digital Inclusion, health, human capital, gender and social policy, accountability and transparency hence. “We do a lot around strategies, programs, regulatory and policy design.
And being here is ensuring that the policy process is participatory, and then we present solutions and evaluate, get lessons to learn so that we can scale.
She added that PIC has so projects in the last year on harnessing behavioural insight, sustainable and inclusive digital transformation, assessment of the context and behavioural drivers of learning poverty and outcomes for “at risk (in and out of school children.”