FG empowerment programmes have dedicated components for women—Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says that since 2015 there has always been a component dedicated to women in all Federal Government’s social and entrepreneurial programmes.

Osinbajo disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja while declaring open a two-day high level National Dialogue Forum on Girls in Nigeria.

The dialogue, with the theme, Towards a Girl-friendly Nigeria,’ was organised by the African Child Policy Forum(ACPF), African Wide Movement for Children (AMC) and Women Arise for Change Initiative. The vice president said that the government was working with stakeholders to implement programmes that would empower, educate and protect the girl-child from all forms of abuse.

“From 2015, we have ensured that all government social and entrepreneurial programmes have an affirmation component for women. “And the reason we have done is because we very strongly believe that all young girls need strong role models; they need to see role models successful at all levels of society. “And this is why we insisted that our social and entrepreneurial programmes must have an affirmated component for women. “So, of the 2.4 million beneficiaries of our Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme, 1.2 million are women; that is 56.4 per cent of the beneficiaries.’’

Osinbajo said that a total of N38 billion in loans were disbursed over the last four years.

He said that out of the 1.1 million beneficiaries of Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, 1.08 million of them were women accounting for over 98 per cent of beneficiaries. The vice president said that women had also had a fair percentage allocated to them in the N-Power and other schemes. “In addition, our youth empowerment programme, the N-Power, where we have engaged 536, 000 young people and just recently, the president asked that that be increased to a million young people. “Of the 536,000 that we have employed, 40.4 per cent of them are female and the 106,074 cooks in our Home Grown Feeding Programme, 97 per cent of them are female. “We also implemented a Payroll Support Programme which was designed to mitigate income loses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and this is part of our Economic Sustainability Plan. “Of the 307,103 employees that have benefited so far from that Payroll Support Programme, 130,000 of them or 43 per cent of the beneficiaries are females; females constitute over 40 per cent of the beneficiaries. “And of the 94, 318 artisan beneficiaries of the programme, 40,336 of them are women.’’

According to Osinbajo, the Federal Government has tried to make sure that affirmatively, whatever the programme may be, a certain percentage is dedicated to women. “Also, all our grants to SMEs and we have so far several grants to SMEs, we have ensured a minimum of 35 per cent of those grants go female-owned businesses. “But despite these efforts, we still have a very long way to go,’’ he said.

The vice president expressed dismay that discriminatory social, cultural and, in many cases, organisational practices and attitude were still hindering women and called for more collaborative efforts.

He said that the Federal Government was striving to remain focused and committed to advancing effective approaches to keeping girls safe and to ensure that girls were given a fair chance. It is important to emphasise that the states and local governments have even more important responsibilities.

“We run a federal system and questions of education, questions of medical care are essentially state matters.

“Primary and secondary schools are in the states and local governments; the federal government has just 100 schools of the thousands of schools there,’’ he said.

Earlier in her opening remarks, Minister of Women Affairs Pauline Tallen said there was need to address the gaps in existing legal and policy frameworks, allocate adequate resources for the protection of girls.

“We need to continue engaging in multi-sectoral collaboration between Ministries to ensure progressive realisation and immediate protection of girls – creating a safe Nigeria for all girls where they meaningfully participate in governance.

“We also need to eliminate gender norms and cultural stereotypes that impede the efforts made to protect girls and to end all forms of violence against children, particularly abuse and sexual exploitation of girls,’’ she said.

President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, who was the second keynote speaker, lauded Osinbajo for his passion for the girl child.

She said that Nigeria had one of the highest child marriage prevalence rates in Africa.

According to her, Nigerian girls are also at high risk of abduction, displacement and even death due to insecurity and conflict caused by insurgents and armed criminals.(NAN)

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