ABUJA (Women Affairs Ministry Report) – The Nigerian Government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has indicated their preparedness to step up joint interventions on women political economic empowerment, girl-child education and the treatment of Vascular-Virginal Fistula patients in the country.
This was the high-point of a meeting between the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Zainab Maina and the newly appointed ECOWAS Commissioner of Social Affairs and Gender, Fatima Dia Sow (Dr) held in Abuja lately.
Fatima Dia Sow emphasized the need to do more towards boosting women development in Nigeria. “We are looking at strategic areas to enhance our collaboration. Some of these areas include: political participation of women, micro-credit empowerment of women and how to increase our efforts in terms of funding,” she said.
According to her, in view of the current security challenges in Nigeria, the Commission is looking at the issues of Women in Peace and Security as well as Gender and Migration and hopes to commence supporting government’s efforts at tracking the issue of VVF from next year. She also expressed the concern and solidarity of the ECOWAS Secretariat on the abducted Chibok Girls, saying the Commission is working on Child’s Rights, Education and Development as it has become necessary to renew its concern on the unfortunate incident.
While responding to the address, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Zainab Maina reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government to boosting women political and economic empowerment, indicating that this is part of the Transformation Agenda of the present Administration.
She affirmed that education, especially for the girl-child will continue to occupy a pride of place under the Jonathan Administration. “We have a President that is not only gender friendly, but also committed to mainstreaming gender in all aspects of national development. He has demonstrated that by appointing women to about 33 percent cabinet positions. He has also recently resolved to boost women economic empowerment with N132billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF),” the Minister iterated.
Zainab Maina expressed optimism that the renewed partnership with the ECOWAS Commission will go a long way in boosting the current efforts at tackling the myriads of issues and concerns on the welfare and development of Nigerian women and girls. She further called for reduction of bottlenecks and bureaucracy by domiciling the Girls Education Scholarship Account in the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. “I will like to suggest that the account presently domiciled in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be moved to the Ministry of Women Affairs with a Foreign Affairs officer as a signatory if need be,” she called.
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