By Maryam Garba Hassan
The Nigerian Government and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission have indicated their preparedness to step up joint interventions on girl-child education, women political economic empowerment and treatment of Vascular Virginal Fistula patients in the country.
This was the high-point of a meeting between the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina and the newly appointed ECOWAS Commissioner of Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Fatima Dia Sow in Abuja.
Dr. Sow expressed the concern and solidarity of the ECOWAS Secretariat on the abducted Chibok Girls, saying the Commission is working on Child’s Rights, Education and Development as it has become necessary to renew its concern on the unfortunate incident.
She emphasized the need to do more to boost women development in Nigeria saying the Commission is looking at strategic areas to enhance its collaboration.
According to her, some of the areas include political participation of women, micro-credit empowerment of women and how to increase its efforts in terms of funding. “
In view of the current security challenges in Nigeria, we are looking at the issues of Women in Peace and Security, Gender and Migration’, she said.
She said from next year, the Commission will support Nigeria government’s efforts at tracking the issue of VVF.
Responding, Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government to boost women political and economic empowerment, saying it was part of the Transformation Agenda of the present administration.
She assured that education, especially for the girl-child, will continue to occupy a pride of place under the present administration.
She called for the reduction of bottlenecks and bureaucracy by domiciling the Girls Education Scholarship Account in the Federal
Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
“I will like to suggest that the account presently domiciled in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs be moved to the Ministry of Women Affairs with a foreign affairs officer as a signatory if need be”, she stated.
She said President Jonathan is not only gender friendly, but also committed to mainstream gender in all aspects of national development. ‘He has demonstrated that in the appointments of about 33 per cent of women cabinet members and the recent resolve to boost women economic empowerment with N132billion from the CBN’s (Central Bank on Nigeria) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF)’, she added.
The Minister however, expressed optimism that the renewed partnership with the ECOWAS Commission will go a long way in boosting the current efforts at tackling the myriads of issues and concerns on the welfare and development of Nigerian women.