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UK support Nigerian women-led SMEs $100m

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By Usman Oladimeji

The investment aligns with the United Kingdom’s three Es project.

Women-led small and medium enterprises are said to receive $100 million of investment from the United Kingdom as direct funding through the First Bank of Nigeria. This was revealed by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, at the ongoing Gender and Inclusion summit organized by the Policy Innovation Center (PIC), an initiative of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Abuja. Ms. Laing explains that this investment aligns with the United Kingdom’s three Es projects which are efforts to “empower women,” “educate girls,” and “end violence against women and girls.”

Ms. Laing emphasized that gender rights are fundamental human rights to which everyone is entitled without discrimination. However, there have been some justifications impeding and contradicting gender equality, such as societal standards, religious norms, and behavioral norms. She claims that the digitalization of humanitarian services and money transfers has empowered women by allowing them to receive money straight into their bank accounts. The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, also urged the Nigerian government and other international partners to focus on measures to address gender disparities.

Women are encouraged to take part in political office.

According to her, the UK government has reiterated its effort to make gender activity paramount with its investment of over $200 billion annually towards programming gender activity and equality globally. The UK mission in Nigeria strives to promote an environment that tackles challenges impeding women’s activity and to empower and supports women’s success. Ms. Laing asserts that the upcoming 2023 elections offer a significant opportunity to promote women’s inclusion in holding leadership positions in government.

Furtherly, women are encouraged to also partake in the running for political office at all levels of government in the future election and not just vote during the election period. She stated that, nevertheless, this campaign season posed an excellent opportunity to demand candidates prioritize policies and legislation for women and girls. Also, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Alexandre Borges-Gomes, reveals that a recent poll showed that less than 50 per cent of women in Nigeria maintain paid employment, compared to 76 percent of males.

UK contributes to Nigeria’s educational system 

Speaking on the organization’s focus, Deputy Director of PIC, Dr. Osasuyi Dirisu, asserts that the organization operates in a number of policy areas such as gender and social policy, health, transparency, financial and digital inclusion, human capital and accountability. He continued by saying that over the course of the past year, PIC has launched initiatives to assess the context and behavioral drivers of learning poverty and outcomes for in and out-of-school children at risk, as well as to harness behavioral insight and implement sustainable and inclusive digital transformation.

Dr. Dirisu explains that the organization intends to institutionalize and create an avenue for stakeholders to collaborate and discover effective measures to enhance gender equality in Nigeria. In addition, the United Kingdom has contributed to Nigeria’s educational system for decades, mostly in the northern part of the country, where it has provided aid to 1.4 million girls into school. In recent years, the British Council has supported systemic change in Nigeria’s twenty organizations and institutions with a UK-Nigeria grant-funded partnership worth £600,000.

British Council chief emphasized the countries’ partnership.

The grant was prompted as the Nigerian and British governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Transnational Education (TNE) with the objective of promoting transformational education in the country. During the TNE in Nigeria, Scott McDonald, British Council Chief Executive, emphasized the British long-term commitment to Nigeria’s education sector as it pushes up with further development. He noted that the UK-Nigeria partnership is significant as it continues striving to internationalize education in both countries.

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