By Perpetua Onuegbu
The UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Amina Mohammed, has stressed the need to educate more girls in Science, Technology, Economics and Mathematics (STEM) to increase access to digital banking.
Mohammed stated this in her keynote address at the 2023 International Conference, Exhibition and 40th anniversary of Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) in Abuja on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the conference is “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Engineering: Embracing Vision, Amplifying Voices and Shaping the Future.”
In the address delivered virtually, she said that stereotypes had been used to hinder women from attaining senior management roles in engineering companies.
Mohammed said that involving women in the STEM sector would create job opportunities and increase socio-economic activities in the country.
“STEM education is key in achieving women economic rights by spreading digital banking, even to rural areas and creating new income and job opportunities to overcome the gender divide.
“We must harness the potential of our women and girls to pursue studies in STEM education to transform our societies and achieve sustainable development.
“Powerful stereotypes have long hindered women’s career in science and engineering, and today, 22 per cent of STEM graduates are female and this must change.”
“I will like to call on government and the private sector in the STEM areas to help narrow the gender digital divide and eliminate gender bias in leadership roles,” Mohammed said.
Earlier, the APWEN President, Dr Elizabeth Eterigho, said female engineers were catalysts for progress and agents of empowerment.
Eterigho said with engineering, it was pertinent to allow women contribute to the sector where every female engineer could achieve her aspirations without fear of discrimination or bias.
“As we are gathered here today, we are not just attendees at a conference, we are torchbearers of a legacy that stretches back generations and propels us forward into a brighter future.
“Together, we can amplify our voice, harness our strength and shape a future where female engineers are not just participants but leaders and innovators, and where our voice is not just among the voices but a voice that is being heard,” she said.
Also, the President, Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr Tasiu Gidari-Wudil, said the association had come of age, adding that it had achieved a great feat at 40.
Gidari-Wudil described APWEN as a strong pillar to NSE in the practice of engineering in the country.
“You are today celebrating your 40th anniversary as a division of NSE since its formation in 1982 by a handful of engineers, led by Engr. J.O. Maduka and its formal inauguration in 1983.
“APWEN has continued to be the catalyst of advancement in the engineering profession in national and international development.
“I must commend APWEN for having kept to its mandate over the years in activities that have to do especially with women engineering profession,” he said.
Gidari-Wudil commended the association for all it had done to promote the profession, especially in bridging the gender gap in STEM education.
Also speaking, the immediate past National Secretary of APC, Sen. Iyiola Omisore, said the association was pivotal to the collective national development.
Omisore, however, decried the fact that quite a number of female engineers had not been registered.
He said that in line with the theme of the conference, the voice of professional women engineers was important to everyone.
Omisore, therefore, called on the executive members of APWEN to be the catalysts for women’s advancement in the engineering profession toward enhancing national and global development.
The former senator said that the association should also encourage and promote, through advocacies, policies that would benefit it, adding that it was important to continue to bridge gender gaps in engineering, especially in award of contracts.
NAN reports that the conference had in attendance engineering professionals, dignitaries and stakeholders from within and outside the country. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Chinyere Bassey and ‘Wale Sadeeq