Women CEOs form a Coalition to Advance Women’s Economic Empowerment in Nigeria

To address the gender disparity in access economic opportunities in Nigeria, women CEOs and relevant stakeholders met in Lagos to form a coalition to advance women’s economic empowerment. The coalition has one goal, make life better for women and girls by pushing for improved implementation of economic policies that will enhance women’s access to public and private procurement as well as income generating opportunities.

Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of female entrepreneurs in the world, yet women-owned businesses do not secure procurement contracts, suggesting systematic gender disparities in the procurement systems of both government and private sector organizations. The consensus on the positive correlation between gender equality and the socio-economic environment of a country calls for incentives to ensure equal opportunities for women entrepreneurs and their male counterparts, for instance in the form of preferential treatment for marginalized groups when it comes to procurement of goods and services.

UN Women is doing this under auspices of the project: Women’s Economic Empowerment through Affirmative Procurement Reform in West and Central Africa, with funding from African Development Bank and Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (WeFi), aimed at improving women’s economic empowerment through enhanced opportunities of women-led businesses to access public procurement and corporate supply chains.

It was designed as a catalyst to support enabling environment for women to work and be financially independent as well as enhance capacities of government officials to formulate and implement gender responsive policies. Gender-responsive policies are crucial to achieving sustainable development, as they enable women and girls to participate fully in and benefit equally from socioeconomic opportunities. address the underlying causes of vulnerability including gender inequality.

In line with UN Women’s coordination mandate, and as part of project exit strategy, the coalition will work with existing state institutions to push for approval of the state policies, monitor government interventions and promote the economic rights of women entrepreneurs in the state. Also the coalition would be expected to push for the domestication of available legal frameworks that support women’s economic empowerment in the state. The coalition will in turn serve as key connectors to government and businesses and help to create a strong enabling environment for civil society organizations, democracy, and the rights of citizen action and participation.

Ms Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, who was represented by Chukwuemeka Onyimadu,Women’s Economic Empowerment Specialist for UN Women, stated that, “According to the National Policy on Women’s Economic Empowerment, 30% of all public procurement opportunities should be reserved for women-owned and women-led businesses”.However, this has not been realized due to socio-economic challenges.

Leading women CEOs and representatives of women associations including WISCAR, WIMBIZ, ANWBN, AWE, AWP, WACCIMA, JONAPED and others participated in the strategicmeeting, including the Director General of Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, FataiOnafowote.

Mr. Onafowote reiterated that Lagos State is committed to improving women’s access to pubic procurement.