Nigerian women and girls, in recent times, have paid a heavy price for the myriad of conflicts that ravaged the country, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Alhassan has said.
Alhassan made this known at a meeting with donors and partners on issues that bother on women and girls, at the sideline of the 61st Session of the Commission on Status of Women (CSW) at the Nigeria House, in New York.
“The emergence of extreme terrorism in Nigeria has introduced new dimensions to women and girls’ human rights violations.
“The situation is further worsened by the humanitarian crisis generated as the internally displaced persons (IDPs) that resulted from the insurgency and the gendered nature of the problem is huge with over 60 per cent of the IDPs population being women and children.
“Catering for the peculiar needs of this group remains a challenge in the post conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation process,” Alhassan said.
She said the commitments of donors and partners groups have helped to advance the status of Nigerian women, children and the vulnerable groups.
Alhassan said the gathering would help to explore how to make strong linkages and consolidate established relationships to help achieve the theme for the 61st CSW, which is to improve the productivity prospects of developing countries that are undergoing recession and decline in national income.
“Reflections on the progress achieved since our last meeting should help in appraising the value added by the collaborative efforts channeled to different work areas.
“It is important to examine the impact of investments and support provided since we last met in order to appreciate the transformation that is taking place in the lives of women and vulnerable groups in Nigeria on account of such partnerships.”
She said the Nigerian women population held a strategic position in the socio-economic and political advancement of the country, regretting, however, that women were still confronted by negative socio-cultural beliefs and practices that shaped their choices and prevented them from contributing optimally to national development.
The minister, however, said progress recorded through partnerships since the last donors meeting at 2016 CSW, had helped the implementation of strategic policy priorities in many key areas.
“Working with UNFPA and UNICEF on the abandonment of female genital mutilation (FGM), 100 medical and health workers were trained and 75 ‘FGM Champions’ have also been equipped to conduct house-to-house visitation on the eradication of FGM.
“Also with UNFPA support, relief materials were provided to the IDPs in the insurgency affected Northeastern States.
“In collaboration with the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre, rehabilitation and reintegration arrangement is in top gear for the repair and rehabilitation of VVF survivors in Kaduna, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom and Katsina states.”
“In the area of promoting economic empowerment of women and girls, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, which is one of the Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government aimed at providing micro-finance to rural communities nationwide is being implemented by my Ministry in collaboration with the Bank of Industry.”
She said under the programme, soft loans were given to rural women entrepreneurs like market women, artisans, farmers and women engaged in other small businesses.
To further expand women’s economic empowerment, Alhassan said initial approval had been granted for a 250 million dollars World Bank project – Strengthening Women Economic Empowerment Programme – to boost government’s financial inclusion programme for grassroot women.
“The African Development Bank, on its part, is setting aside the sum of five million dollars out of the 13 million dollars economic growth stimulation project in Nigeria for women.
“UN Women has also supported the Ministry with the training of 600 women, who suffered various forms of violence as result of the insurgency in the Northeast, on skills and techniques needed to access loans from the National Women Empowerment Fund.
“In the area of women’s political participation, in collaboration with ECOWAS and INEC, the Ministry is working on strategies for increasing women’s participation in politics with a view to creating entry points into political party structures and systems.”
She said in collaboration with UNFPA and UN Women, the Ministry had undertaken humanitarian interventions in the Northeast through the provision of relief materials to IDPs in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Gombe and Bauchi States.
“The holistic rehabilitation and reintegration programme of the 24 recently released Chibok girls from the captivity of Boko Haram is being carried out in collaboration and with the support of UN Women and UNFPA,” she said.
Alhassan also said the country recently revised and validated Nigeria’s National Action Plan on UN Security Council’s resolution 1325, in order to provide a more robust and strategic framework for addressing women peace and security concerns.
She commended the donors and partners for their collaboration and commitments towards advancing the mandate of the Ministry by ensuring better life for Nigerian women, children, the physically challenged and other vulnerable groups. (NAN)