PROMINENT stakeholders who met in Abuja at the unveiling of the 2012 gender report in Nigeria yesterday expressed dissatisfaction with the state of women in the country and urged the government to tackle gender issues.
Those who expressed their support for the campaign included the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Minister of Finance , Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and her counterpart in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Hajia Zainab Maina.
They stressed the need for government at all levels to implement gender policies, ensuring the inclusion of more women in the directorate cadre in various Ministries, Department and Agencies.
Besides, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Women Affairs and Youth Development, Helen Esuene, urged state governments across the country to partner with the Federal Government in establishing institutions like the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre (C<C) in order to re-orientate the youths, saying the existing seven centres were not enough.
The call was made in Lagos yesterday when members of the Esuene-led committee including Senator Boluwaji Kunlere representing Ondo South and Senator Nenadi Usman, Kaduna South, embarked on an oversight visit to the centre at Apapa, Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Esuene commended the efforts of the centre at moulding minds of the nation’s youths, but also added that the centre could do better if the Federal Government properly funded the initiative. She also noted that the buildings were old, hence, they needed to be pulled down and reconstructed.
The gender report put together by the British Council and supported by the Department For International Development (DFID) said girls and women had the potential to transform Nigeria, hence, increased investment in women would improve productivity and growth.
The worrisome document revealed that 15 per cent of Nigerian women had bank accounts; on the gender equality index, Nigeria ranked 118 out of the 134 countries in the world; Nigerian girls who enrolled in school left school earlier than their male counterpart; and 41 per cent of children under the age of five years suffered from malnutrition and stunted growth.
The report further indicated that over 1.5million Nigerian children within the age range of six-14 years were out of school, adding that 70.8 per cent of young women aged 20-29 in the North-West were unable to read or write compared to the 9.7 per cent in the South-East.
It also disclosed that Nigeria had the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world with one Nigerian woman dying during childbirth in 10 minutes. In essence, the national mortality rate was put at 545 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The CBN governor unveiled plans by the government to enable women in the rural areas to have access to health care through the voucher system, whereby a woman receives vouchers on her mobile phone, she in turn takes the voucher to the health care centres available in her community, where she will be treated free of charge.
Sanusi further disclosed that since the establishment of the CBN in 1959 till 2009, only three women had ever risen to the directorate cadre. To ensure gender equality in the CBN, Sanusi disclosed the bank had come up with a new policy that would ensure that of the 26 directors in the institution, 50 per cent would be women by 2014.
He also pledged that the bank would fast-track access to loans to women at a single digit interest rate.
Some of the recommendations made in the gender report included the need for banks to make their services more accessible to women by designing products and services to meet women needs; the public sector should identify measures to ensure that women fill at least 30 per cent of posts for judges and permanent secretaries.
The report further recommended the need to create incentives for girls to complete primary and secondary education, adding that states should allocate 10 per cent of their budgets to education.
It stressed the need to tackle gender violence and conflict, make politicians more accountable to women, improve women’s health and reduce maternal mortality.