NGO inaugurates project to empower girls, women with disabilities

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By Esenvosa Izah

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Sightsavers, on Thursday inaugurated a project, “Strengthening Access to Business Education and Inclusion (SABI) – Woman’’, targeted at young girls and women with disabilities.

The project is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship, boosting employability, and advocating inclusion in the country’s financial sector.

The inauguration, which took place in Lagos, is in collaboration with Access Bank, United Nations Children’s Fund, Unilever, among others.

Speaking, the Technical Advisor, Economic Empowerment, Sightsavers, Mr Rasak Adekoya, said that 2,800 girls and women with disabilities in Lagos and Kano States would be benefiting from the project.

Adekoya said that the beneficiaries include 1,300 adolescent girls between the ages of 13 and 17, and 1,500 young adults, aged 18 to 24 years.

He said that the project aimed to build the employability and entrepreneurship capacity of young women with disability, aged 18 to 24, with the hope of linking them to start their own career or businesses.

“We also plan to build the professional and career capacity of adolescent girls with disability aged 13 to 17.

‘’What we are trying to do in that regard is that, we want them to have their aspiration, have the skills and necessary guidance that will help them.

“The third part which we are really committed to doing on this project is around financial inclusion.

“If you look at the national financial inclusion strategy that the government has put together, that is the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), it lacks a large piece of issues around financial inclusion for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

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“What we will do through this project is to advocate and strengthen that financial inclusion strategy to ensure that there is pathway and clear financial inclusion guideline from the CBN.

“This will help to guide the banks on the need to ensure their products and services can benefit persons with disability, particularly women with disability,’’ he said.

Also, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for People with Disabilities, Dr James Lalu, said that the project was essential for the disability community.

Lalu noted that with the trend in the growing business opportunities around the world, the disability community needed to be properly mainstreamed to tap into the opportunities.

“The disability community has demonstrated the capacity, ability, commitment to making sure that once they get the opportunity, they are going to do the best they can.

‘’We have a lot of PWDs, who are practically into businesses; therefore, it is important, as an institution, for us to do everything possible to develop and provide the necessary policy environment for PWDs,’’ he said.

In her remarks, Sightsavers Country Director, Dr Joy Shuaibu, said that the project would help to provide job opportunities, not only for PWDs who would be running the businesses.

She said as a result of the business outfit, the PWDs would have the potential of being employers of labour.

“So, collectively, we will improve in our economy as a country, and of course, that will also lead to an increase in the funds that are available to us as a country.

“This is how we feel that the PWDs will also contribute their quota to national and economic development, ‘’ Shuaibu said.

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Also, one of the partners, Access Bank, said it was resolute in its commitment to championing inclusion in and around the workplace including the private sector, serving as the Chair of the Nigeria Business Disability Network.

According to the Chief Brand and Communications Officer for Access Corporation, Mr Amaechi Okobi, the initiative marks a significant stride forward in the bank’s unified mission to advance diversity, inclusion, and equitable opportunity for all.

‘’Our resolve remains unshakable as we strive to cultivate an environment that welcomes and actively promotes their full participation and engagement.

‘’Today marks the beginning of something phenomenal; we are embarking on a journey that will further transform lives, uplift communities, and pave the way for a brighter future.

“Let us take this moment to celebrate the boundless potential of every young woman and girl, and let our actions speak volumes as we empower them to reach for the stars,” Okobi said. (NAN)

Edited by Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Oluwole Sogunle

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