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Empowerment of women key to economic growth – Envoy

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Empowerment of women key to economic growth – Envoy
Empowerment of women key to economic growth – Envoy

By Franca Ofili

The Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr Christopher Thornley, said that the empowerment of women was key for any country to achieve poverty reduction and economic growth.

Thornley made the statement in Abuja on Tuesday at the National Women Business Summit organised by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWEN).

The  theme is “Strengthening The Women Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Pivotal to Ending Recession and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’’.

He said that gender inequality was a human rights issue, adding that it was a sector that could achieve prosperity, development, inclusive government, accountability and transparency.

Thornley said most challenges women faced to grow their businesses were lack of finance, training and not being included in decision making processes.

He said in order to respond to the challenges of gender inequality, there was need to recognise gender issues as central to and critical to economic development.

“We need to strengthen women capacities, skills and expand their opportunities to be fully developed.’’

Thornley said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a contribution of 20 million dollars to help female entrepreneurs in developing countries during G20 summit in Hamburg.

He promised that the office would help women access the fund, saying the fund would address the difficulty women-owned small and medium-sized businesses faced in developing countries.

Thornley advised the summit to discuss important things that would enable the women to get involved in decision making.

Mrs Nkiru Okpala, National Coordinator of the association, said the summit would proffer the best ways forward for the growth and economic sustenance of the nation.

Okpala said that economically empowered women were major catalysts for development, as they re-invested their money in their children’s health, nutrition and education, which in turn built safer and united nations.

“There is mounting evidence to show that women’s economic activities results in better bargaining power in all their endeavours,’’ she said.

According to her, the association is a coalition of 18 women business and professional associations in Nigeria with a membership of over 920,000 women entrepreneurs, who have common goals.

Okpala said the aim of the association was to encourage and improve sustainable entrepreneurial development among women through research, advocacy and policy reform initiatives.

She said the women had risen to the challenge of the current economic conditions of the country.

Mr Olufemi Boyede, Managing Director, Koinonia Ventures Ltd, advised women to attend programmes that would improve their businesses.

Boyede encouraged chief executives of MDAs to ensure that they personally attend programmes instead of sending representatives, who might not have the authority to speak on behalf of their organisations.

He said that attending programmes would enable them to personally address issues that might be raised at such events.

“Chief executives in Nigeria have the habit of not attending programmes rather they send low ranking officers, who will write reports that might take six months before being attended to,’’ he said.

Boyede said for the country to develop, the people needed to understand the meaning of economic development and address it from the root. (NAN)

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Empowerment of women key to economic growth – Envoy

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