*launches high-level advisory council on support
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the High-Level Advisory Council on Support for Women and Girls, calling for upscaling of efforts for more inclusion of women in development policies and projects.
At the launch of Advisory Council, Adolescent Girls’ Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project and National Women’s Economic Empowerment Policy Dialogue, Thursday in Abuja, the President said the three initiatives will target reduction of poverty, and building of a sustainable economy.
“This is what we promised to all Nigerians – including our women and girls when our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), was elected in 2015. I am proud to say that our government has delivered over the past eight years.
“The well-being of women and girls remain a pivotal indicator of how well any Nation is doing in driving her developmental plans. I am proud of the tremendous progress that has been made to emphasize the needs of Nigerian women and girls into national economic planning, policy development, public programming, and public financial management.
“While there has been progress, we are not unmindful of the gaps associated with harnessing the available resources of government, the innovation and efficiency of the private sector, and the technical expertise of our social and development sector partners to drive women’s and girls’ empowerment outcomes,’’ he said.
The President noted that coordination had remained a key gap in the efforts to improve livelihoods and democratize opportunities for women and girls.
“It is expected that the High-Level Advisory Council on Nigeria’s Support for Women and Girls, which I am very proud to inaugurate today therefore comes as an answered prayer to bridge this identified gap.
“As this Council takes off, I want to charge it with the mandate to drive all round collaboration and action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality between now and 2030,’’ the President added.
Buhari commended the Minister of Women’s Affairs, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning and Minister of Education for exemplifying collaboration and innovation in service delivery.
“I also want to thank our private and social sector partners, especially the Council’s private sector Co-Chairs for being willing to join us on this journey to improve the lives of Nigerian women and girls.
“I want to charge the HLAC to initially focus on driving women’s economic empowerment, especially in the areas of economic access, sustainable livelihoods, and education; including second chance education for women and girls. I will also encourage deeper engagement and deliberate focus on sustaining the Council’s inaugural priority initiatives, which include:
“The National Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment which is a robust programme aimed at leveraging on diverse approaches and perspectives across the Federation to redefine our implementation of women’s economic empowerment programmes.
“I am proud that over the course of the Dialogue, in engagements stretching from Kebbi to Lagos, the Government of Nigeria has engaged the perspectives of over 100,000 Nigerians – including grassroots women, government actors, captains of industries, traditional rulers, religious leaders, technology-entrepreneurs to understand what works to drive women’s economic empowerment in Nigeria,’’ he stated.
The President expressed confidence that the Policy Dialogue will culminate in the launch of a transformative National Policy on Women’s Economic Empowerment which will be held in April, 2023.
“Secondly, the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Program – a multi-sectoral project that provides a comprehensive support for the education and empowerment of more than 20 million young girls and women.
“This project delivers on a promise I made at the beginning of this administration, to uphold Article 18(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that aims to ensure “… equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels” by strengthening our educational institutions and facilities and promoting world class teaching, learning, research and community service.
“Thirdly, the Nigeria for Women Project Scale- Up which builds on the success of the first phase to provide greater opportunities for more women; especially in the rural areas. In Phase One of the Project, Nigerian women across the six pilot states saved over 3.1 billion naira and received almost 10 billion naira in disbursements to support their livelihoods.
“I am proud that a lasting legacy of this administration is that the Project will be scaled from six to at least seventeen states, and that up to 3.9 million women will benefit from the multidimensional aspects of the program,’’ he added.
Buhari noted that there can be no true national development without the empowerment of women and girls, urging all stakeholders to redouble efforts in the push for gender equity and equality.
“I thank our development partners for their consistent support and hope that they will continue to support our drive for development across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy.
“I assure you all that I will continue to do everything in my power, while I remain your President, to support the education and economic empowerment of girls in Nigeria,’’ he said.
In her welcome address, Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen noted that the inauguration is evidence of President Buhari’s commitment to the empowerment of women and girls in Nigeria, adding that the President had in December 2022, approved the formation of a Presidential High Level Advisory Council on women’s support to women in Nigeria.
According to her, the Council will provide strategic guidance, oversight, policy and support to the government – led gender equality initiatives as well as advice Nigeria’s financial and technical partners on critical areas of support for women and girls in Nigeria.
There were goodwill messages from HRH. Alh. Dr. Shehu Chindo Yamusa III, Emir of Keffi, Her Excellency, Catriona Wendy, British Ambassador to Nigeria, as well as Jeremie Zoungrana, Country Director, Bill Gates Foundation, among others.