Federal Republic of Nigeria Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has addressed the Nigerian press saying that the level of domestic debt needs to be curbed. She is a former official of the World Bank., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
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Nigeria: African women’s economic summit opens in Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria - The second edition of the African Women’s Economic Summit (AWES) opened in Nigeria's commercial city of Lagos Friday, with a call on policy makers, corporate organisations and political leaders to step up measures that will promote women empowerment and remove barriers that impede their development. “The challenges are not new to many of us. The constraints include lack of collateral to access loans from banks, outdated customs and cultural practices,” Cecilia Akintomide, Vice-President of the Tunis-based African Development Bank (AfDB), said at the opening ceremony.
Ms. Akintomide, who represented AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, charged the summit participants to focus on solving other problems confronting women, including education, access to health and capacity building, saying without addressing these issues, women would continue to be relegated to the background.
“More than half of women who died during birth are from Africa. African women hold only 26% of small size businesses in sub-Saharan Africa, and on the global front only 15%, which is very low.
'We are not going to participate fully in growing the economy without access to financing. Inclusion is very important. Unless we do the right thing, we may not be able to move forward as we want. Each one of us here has a responsibility to promote women empowerment,” she said.
In a keynote address, Nigeria's Finance Minister Ngozi OKonjo-Iweala said it is no longer a debate on whether there should be any investment on women, since such investment is the only way to sustain current growth across Africa.
She said even though Africa has produced two women Presidents in Liberia and Malawi, women's participation in politics and governance is still too low, giving their strategic role and number.
“Women are the third largest emerging markets in the globe. (They are) the third largest sources of growth. One of the fastest ways to sustain current growth is to invest in women, at least this will grow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” she said.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said while the global economies were experiencing greater uncertainties as manifested in the economic crisis in Europe, United States and other emerging markets like China, Brazil and India, African economy is growing at 5%.
As a way out of the financial exclusion being experienced by women, the minister advocated for a specialised bank that will cater for the financial interest of women alone.
“Let's us be creative, let's join hands together in other to solve women's problems in financing. ...Lets come together, because we are used to solving and coming together to empower ourselves,” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said.
Nomsa Daniels, Executive Director of New Faces New Voices (NFNV), organisers of the summit, said in the next two years, the organisation would focus attention on developing a data base on women participation in entrepreneurship, financing and the economy.
In addition, she said the group would organise capacity building programme as well as financial education and enlightenment for women.
Those attending the summit, which is due to end Saturday, include women from the financial sector, corporate organisations and the civil society.
The first edition of AWES took place in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2010.