Fayemi, Okonjo-Iweala, Mandela Advocate Women Empowerment, Education

July 15, 2012

L-R: Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi; Keynote Speaker and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; CEO, Emzor Pharmaceutical, Dr. Stella Okoli; and Wife of Vice President, Hajia Amina Namadi Sambo, at the Second African Women's Economic Summit, in Lagos... on Friday

Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Wife of a former President of South Africa, Mrs Graca Machel Mandela, have said that women empowerment and education remain the catalysts for Africa’s economic growth.

They were among African women that converged on Lagos, Nigeria, on Friday for the second African Women’s summit, organised by New Faces, New Voices, founded by Mandela.
The thrust of the event, which was organised in collaboration with the Africa Development Bank and support from some corporate organisations, was women empowerment and gender equality.
Wife of the Vice President, Hajia Amina Namadi Sambo; wife of Adamawa State Governor, Hajia Zainab Nyako, a former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Robin Sanders, Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Industry, Ms. Evelyn Oputu; and Vice President, African Development Bank, Ms. Cecelia Akintomide, were also at the event.

In an interview with journalists at the event, Erelu Bisi Fayemi urged African leaders to enthrone sustainable women access to finance and political power for economic development in the continent.
The Ekiti First Lady, who is also the President of Africa Women Development Fund, noted that African women have proved to be more enterprising than their male counterparts, but were being hampered by capital.
She said that empowering women was a veritable means of poverty reduction and economic growth in the continent. The governor’s wife advised African governments to emulate the Ekiti initiative by putting in place policy framework that would support the strategic needs of women.
She said, “We are the only state in the country that has put in place Gender-Based Violence Prohibition Law, which protects women and girls from violence.
“It is also important that states government in Nigeria use the national gender policy as planning and operational tool to support women empowerment programmes in their states.”
In a keynote address, the minister of finance stressed the need to invest in women and focus on the financing of their enterprise, adding that the global economy had a number of uncertainties and was experiencing unprecedented challenges.
Okonjo-Iweala, who identified women as the third largest emerging market in the world, said investing in them would improve and sustain Africa’s economic growth.
She highlighted some of the barriers to women empowerment as poor access to basic health, poor education and low level of participation in politics and governance.
The Minister urged women to take up the challenge and ensure that they were on equal pedestal with their male counterparts, adding that gender equality would encourage economic efficiency.
Welcoming participants to the summit, Mandela said the organization was a Pan-African network of women in the financial and business sectors who recognised that women had the potential to contribute significantly to economic growth in Africa.
Speaking through the Executive Director of the organization, Ms Nomsa Daniels, Mandela said that New Faces, New Voices was established to advocate investment in women.
She listed the thematic focus of the organization as advocating increased women’s access to finance and financial services, improving women’s skills as entrepreneurs and business leaders, and growing the number and visibility of African women in leadership and decision-making positions, especially in the financial sector.
The former South Africa First Lady said that she was also inspired by the need to reduce gender inequalities, improve the economic well-being of women and their families, and African economies by extension.
Mandela said: “The Lagos Summit seeks to unlock the value that is inherent in the female economy in order for women to take their rightful place as equal partners in meeting the development challenges of Africa.
“We see this as an opportunity to continue to engage with decision-makers in the financial sector – policy-makers, regulators,
commercial banks and prominent women entrepreneurs to find innovative ways to accelerate the inclusion of women in Africa’s growth story.
“Our South African chapter is already working with the Business Women’s Association and Business Unity South Africa to look at ways to promote the role of women in shaping the country’s National Growth Plan.”

Last modified: July 15, 2012

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