UN Women calls for increased involvement in gender equality

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By Busayo Onijala


The UN Women on Tuesday called for an increase in the private sector’s involvement in the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Nigeria.


The call was made in Lagos, on the sideline of a Private Sector CEOs Meeting with Mr Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director for Central and West Africa, who is on an executive visit to Nigeria.


Houinato lauded the established collaboration between Nigeria’s private sector and the government which he said had so far yielded a 25 million U.S. dollar fund to fight gender-based violence.


This, he said was possible because they acknowledge that gender equality is key for the promotion of the economy.


According to him, both the private sector and government are aware of the crippling effects gender-based violence has on the Nigerian economy.


“We are wasting a tremendous amount of money to address this issue and if it is put off the table, the funds will be available for other developmental projects,” he said.


Houinato also hailed women in business for realising that for them to rise to the top of the difficult environment of business in Nigeria, they need to be professional and collaborative.


“The women have realised that they are going to access spaces when they are professional, strong in business, and side with governments to influence the economic policy of this country.


“To do that, the level of professionalism that they need to demonstrate is very high because the economy in Nigeria is a very competitive place, and they want to earn that place,” he said.

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On his part, Mr Lansana Wonneh, UN Women Deputy Country Representative in Nigeria, said gender inequality is one of the biggest challenges to development in Nigeria.


Part of its symptoms, he said, include limited participation of women in governance and gender-based violence.


He said changing the dynamic should not be left to the government or civil society alone, adding that the private sector also has a significant role to play.


“If we all see it as a national cause, then it is important that the private sector also invests.


“If they invest, it has business benefits for them as well,” he said.


Wonneh added that a reduction in gender-based violence would lead to an  increase in productivity of half of the population, considering that about 50 per cent of Nigerians are women.


“Eliminating gender based violence will only allow Nigeria to realise the full investment potential and full productivity potential of women,” Wonneh said. (NAN)

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