Increased investment in women empowerment’ll improve Nigeria’s GDP, UN Women regional director, Houinato

UN Women Regional Director for East Africa, West, and Central Africa, Maxime Houinato, has said that in order to bridge the multi-sectoral gender gaps in Nigeria and improve the standard of living for women and girls, there is need for the federal government to commit specific percent of national budgets and development funds to interventions that address gender disparity in Nigeria.

Maxime Houinato is in Nigeria for an executive visit.

In a press briefing Friday at the UN House Friday in Abuja, Houinato said increased allocation of specific budget lines to address gender disparity in Nigeria would empower more women.   

“Women are at the heart of human capital for economic development in any nation – health, education, agriculture, and business. Gender disparity and the suffering of women are having a detrimental impact on the building of that human capital which is at the centre of productivity and development,” Houinato said.  

The UN Women regional director met with various stakeholders in Lagos and Abuja including the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.

In Lagos, a $25million GBV fund was launched as part of a contribution from Nigeria’s private sector. The fund will serve to fund gender responsive interventions that will curb violence against women and girls and enhance women’s empowerment.

He said, “I was rushed to Lagos by my team the moment I landed in Abuja to look at a couple of initiatives. One of them is the establishment by the private sector with the technical support of the UN Women of a $25 million GBV Fund. This is the first time in Africa that the private sector is coming together to take up such issues as GBV and to put hard currency on the table.  

“When I met the minister of Budget, he really appreciated that contribution and that the government might consider a tax break for private companies that decide to put money on the table to address gender equality issues that have always been the contribution of the government to the private sector initiative.

“I was also thrilled to meet with the Nigeria Exchange group that has decided to start working with UN Women to launch in 2025 the first gender bond in Nigeria with contribution from various investors into gathering resources to address the lack of opportunity that women suffer from.

“Those initiatives are interesting because so far, the government has been putting resources for critical elements of gender inequality. Now we believe more and more the private sector is getting interested, the reason being that gender based violence, gender inequality that was placed in the social sector has now moved to the economic sector where we recognize that inequality is crippling the economy.”

In her remarks, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong, stated that the financial implication of GBV is enormous and reiterated that if the prevalence of violence against women and girls reduces, family income and earnings will improve and so will the economy of the society at large.

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