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Nigerian Senator Says Women Are the Solution to a Stagnant Economy

Senator Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, gave a talk on addressing rising unemployment rates and women’s empowerment in Nigeria and the rest of Africa at the Second Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour, and Employment Summit. He stressed the need for increasing the number of women in economic and political systems. He encouraged and praised other countries for taking steps in this direction, like Nigeria, which established the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons to protect vulnerable women against abuse and slavery. He also encouraged governments to implement micro-credit schemes such as Nigeria’s Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes.

Ngige addressed the rising unemployment rates, a topical issue that affects not only Nigeria but the entire African continent. The senator serves as an advocate for the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Youth Fund for Employment. At the summit, Ngige expressed his strategy to mitigate this overwhelming unemployment by investing in two of the continent’s most underrated demographics, women and adolescents.

With much of Africa’s informal workforce consisting of young people, Ngige insists that the Youth Fund for Employment would be a key answer to building a more stable and educated labor force by providing Africa’s working youth with formal training and the skills necessary to create a strong and productive workforce.

Because a majority of Africa’s population still remains within the blue-collar working spheres, Ngige wishes to cater employment training projects toward the masses, not just those within the white-collar circles of society.

“The new visions should be for graduate entrepreneurs who would not be job seekers but establishers of business for themselves and employing others, especially the high school leavers who normally stream into the informal sector,” said Ngige at the summit. “When this fund takes off and [is] made available to all, [it] will assist in no small measure.”

In regards to his support of integrating more women into Africa’s labor market, Ngige stated that as women consist of half of the continent’s population, they are an integral investment and part of the solution to improving Africa’s low employment rates. This said, Ngige also acknowledges that massive gender gaps still plague much of Africa’s workforce and everyday social life, which results in an oppressed citizenry of women. In order to build a strong foundation of capable laborers, Ngige pushes Africa’s government leaders to invest in empowering their women, citing the eradication of forced labor and installment of Equal Pay Equal Work policies in the workforce as frontrunning acts towards reform.

In response, government leaders installed agencies like the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in an effort to reduce and protect women and girls from slavery and abuse. The organization is also dedicated to improving women’s health and decreasing Africa’s maternal mortality rate. Moreover, Ngige stressed the need for microcredit systems such as Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programs to open markets for Africa’s agriculturists and home business owners, many of whom are impoverished women. Such organizations would not only help develop a stable market for small farmers and businesses but also serve as a security net during economic decline.

Featured Image by DFID – UK Department for International Development on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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