The Federal Government on Thursday in New York, showcased the social intervention programmes put in place by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari specifically, to empower women in the country.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan, at a side event hosted by Nigeria at the ongoing UN Commission on Status of Women, said women’s financial exclusion was becoming a thing of the past.
The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the event was “Financial Inclusion: Boosting Women’s Empowerement in Changing Economy through Government Enteprises and Empowerment Programme”.
“The Government of President Muhammadu Buhari is conscious of the need to fully integrate women as active participants in the Nigerian economy by expanding their access to credit.
“In this regard, the Government has rolled out several gender-based social palliatives that would both empower women, and liberate them from the clutches of poverty.
“The overall aim of President’s Social Investment Programme is to ensure that the human rights of women and girls are facilitated through a range of transformative, comprehensive and inclusive platforms,” she said.
She said her ministry recognized the enormous contribution of the informal economy sector, which is largely populated by women.
In view of this the ministry, in collaboration with other Ministries, Departments and Agencies, had carried out various forms of intervention programmes geared towards supporting women’s entrepreneurship development.
“I am happy to announce to this gathering that to further consolidate on these initiatives and reaffirm his commitment towards improving the productivity and livelihood of Nigerian women, the present administration, under the leadership of President Mohammadu Buhari recently launched a N1.6 billion special intervention fund – National Women Empowerment Fund.
“The Fund is aimed at supporting grassroots women operating informal businesses by providing start-up and scale-up credit for them.
“The programme has been rolled out and expected to target about 10,000 women per state.
“Through this project, an estimated 450,000 dollars is to be disbursed per state through active and functional cooperative, local trade associations and other community based groups.”
She said there was “a recommitment to utilize 60 per cent of the N697 billion Micro and Small Medium Enterprise Fund for women.
“In addition, the Victims Support Fund, which raised about 625 million dollars for the rehabilitation of victims of Boko Haram will benefit children and women who constitute majority of the victims”.
The Minister said the Federal Government was also scaling up the training and empowerment of Internally Displaced Persons, especially women and girls in the affected states.
“Other laudable interventions wothy of mention include the gender responsive budgeting model, which was piloted in five Ministries, Departments and Agencies namely Agriculture, Health, Water Resources, Works and Communication Technology with a record of 3.6 million beneficiaries till date.
“There is also the major initiative, which is the Growing Girls and Women Initiative in Nigeria (G-Win) E-Wallet Agro initiative, which provided subsidized agro-inputs to women in agribusiness.
“So far, two million registered women have benefitted from this scheme,” Alhassan said.
To enhance rural development, the Rural Finance Institution Building Programme has been put in place to boost income and general living conditions for rural households, particularly female headed households, she said.
The minister added that the programme was in addition to the establishment of the Entrepreneurship Development Centres, which are building the capacity of women.
“The initiative has so far created 2,078 women enterpreneurs, representing 51 per cent of the beneficiaries.
“The FADAMA Irrigation project has also been extended to a third phase to increase the income of users of rural land and water resources, especially women,” she said.
NAN reports that some of the institutions that are responsible for the implementation of the social intervention programmes, namely Central Bank of Nigeria abd Bank of Industry, provided further information on requirements to accessing the funds.
NAN also reports that the side event was attended by Wives of Governors, Commissioners, legislators, women civil society groups and representatives from other African countries.
The representative of Burundi, specifically, appealed to Nigeria to use its strategic position on the continent to push for the establishment of a continental bank for women to further empower them.