Nigeria can’t progress without social, economic liberation of women ― Lawan

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North’s economic recovery must focus on upscaling digital skills of youths ― Pantami
Two million Nigerians living in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe IDP camps alone ― UNHCR
Nigeria can’t progress without social, economic liberation of women ― Lawan

9th Assembly Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. PHOTO: Getty Images
By Luminous Jannamike
Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, said Nigeria cannot achieve economic progress without the social emancipation of women, especially in the North.

He stated this in Abuja at the unveiling of Arewa Recovery Plan, a document to facilitate social and economic regeneration in the North, following the devastations caused by insurgents since 2009.

According to Lawan, social ceilings preventing Northern women from aspiring to notable heights in politics and business exist in the region; stressing that these barriers have contributed largely to its poverty.

Represented by his Special Assistant on Gender Matters, Hajia Zahra Umar, the Senate President said, “The most economically marginalised women in the country are from the North. We cannot have an economic recovery plan that excludes their emancipation and empowerment.

“Though nearly 70 per cent of economic activities in the North are carried out by women, their total contribution to the national economy is insignificant because they operate at very low levels.

“So, we must accommodate their interests. We have to bring them out of their social chains. Already, there is a ceiling to what a Northern woman can be whether in politics, business, or career pursuits. No country or region can achieve economic growth by leaving behind a sector of its population, especially the women.”

He regretted that the National Gender Policy was not being implemented despite its beauty on paper.

“The gap between even between the Northern woman and her counterpart from the South is huge and cannot just be bridged by a cosmetic dressing. It requires real work in terms of policy implementation,” Lawan added.

Speaking also, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said the plan to rebuild the economy of the North must focus on shoring up the digital skills of youths in the region.

Noting that the world has moved away from resource-based to knowledge-based economic models, the Minister said President Muhammadu Buhari adopted the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy to facilitate acquisition of digital skills by youths nationwide to drive the economy of their respective regions amongst other benefits.

In his remarks, Mark Topps, a representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said no meaningful development plan can succeed in the North without security and peace.

He said, “Right now, in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states alone, about two million Nigerians are displaced and living in camps.

“So, our initial goal together with the federal and state governments is to return the IDPs to their communities but that will only happen when there is peace.

“However, for the return to be sustainable, basic commodities, infrastructure, and amenities must be in place. In their areas that already seem to be peaceful, civil authorities must be available and strengthened to function optimally.”

Topps added that so far UN programmes on economic empowerment in the North are ongoing but explained that a lot of them were contingent on the people being in a situation where they can return home from the camps.

Earlier, Dele Williams, lawyer and convener of Area Economic Club said even though the North has not experienced war, technically, in recent years the mortality rate, insecurity, poverty and unemployment unleashed in the region in the last decade by insurgents and bad governance have left the people in shock and devastation comparable to a post-war scenario.

“The Arewa Recovery Plan is designed to be a public-private partnership effort to revive the North and get our people back to work,” he stressed.