Stakeholders advocate inclusion, women empowerment for sustainable growth

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By Justina Auta

Stakeholders have called for more support and opportunities to promote inclusion and women empowerment for sustainable growth and development in the country.

They made the call at the International Women’s Day celebration organised by the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneur (NASME) with a theme,” Empowering Women for Sustainable Success” on Saturday in Abuja.

Dr Tope Fasua, Special Assistant to the President on Economic Affairs office of the Vice President, said women contributes to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and managing resources at the family and national level.

“Women are central to any development of any economy, traditionally and historically, women are central to development of entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

“We have seen instances where our women have saved many families and it is fantastic that we have been able to co-opt this into the women wing of NASME and also recognition from the NANO aspect of the market.

“Our people are not waiting for government; they are being creative rather than getting into crime.

“So it is something we must continue to support and I will also advise in my capacity for government to give more support,” he said.

Also, Mrs Doris Uzoka-Anite, Minister of Industry, trade and Investment, represented by Mrs Popola Abimbola, Chief Industrial Officer, noted that limited access to finance market and support services are barriers affecting women entrepreneurs.

“Women entrepreneurs still demonstrate resilience, creativity, and determination in establishing and growing their businesses.

“We are committed to creating an enabling environment that facilitates the growth and success of women- owned SMEs.

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“We recognise the importance of providing women entrepreneurs with access to affordable financing, business development services, and market opportunities to unleash their full potential,” she said.

Also, Mr Charles Odii, Director General, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN) said empowering women was strategic for advancing economic development, social progress and inclusive prosperity.

Odii, represented by Regina Bamaiyi, Chief Executive Officer, said: “let us reaffirm our commitment to championing the rights and aspirations of women entrepreneurs.

“Let us work tirelessly and create a future where every woman has the opportunity to thrive, succeed and lead with dignity and determination.”

Mr Ali Mohammed Ali, MD, News Agency of Nigeria.

Dr Abdurashid Yerima, President and Chairman, NASME said the event was to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women to the growth and development of Nigeria’s economy and SMEs.

Yerima, underscored the importance of fostering an inclusive business environment, where women can achieve long-term success.

“This means addressing the challenges women entrepreneurs face such as access to finance, mentorship and market opportunities,” he said.

According to him, NASME has trained, organised networking events and partnered with financial institutions to access credit and enable women-owned businesses to thrive.

On his part, Malam Ali Muhammad Ali, Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) noted the immense contributions of women to the growth and development of the country.

Ali also emphasised on media’s role in inspiring inclusion and driving Nigeria’s economic growth and innovation.

“Virtually all media have specific airtime and pages devoted to gender issues, health, empowerment and others that will inspire growth.

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“African is a very masculine, patriarchal society, where men dominate and in some cultures, women are seen as second class citizens.

“But with the help of the media, some of these narratives, where women are subjected to the background are being gradually affected and changed for the better,” he said.

Ms. Olapeju Ibekwe, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling One Foundation, said” “empowering women is not just an activity; it is directly linked to improvements in community health and education, which are fundamental to sustainable development.

“Women often reinvest a higher percentage of their income back into their families and communities.

“This reinvestment leads to better-educated and healthier future generations, creating a positive cycle of development.”

Other highlights of the day were panel discussions and conferment of awards to notable personalities for their immense contributions to women empowerment. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Halima Sheji

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