By Busayo Onijala
The United Nations (UN) has reaffirmed its commitment to remain committed to partnering with the government and people of Nigeria to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Edward Kallon, the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, gave the reassurance on Monday in Lagos at a National Policy Dialogue to commemorate the 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD).
Kallon noted that the theme celebrates the tremendous efforts of women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the commitment had become key for the UN to not just impact positively on women and girls, but also achieve gender equality.
According to Kallon, this has become imperative because the continued challenges that women and girls face in Nigeria must be recognised and eliminated.
“Women and girls are currently bearing the brunt of the pandemic and sadly, we are witnessing a regression with many girls out of school.
“Escalation in gender-based violence and increased care burden on women also threatens their exclusion from the labour market.”
He said that the UN system had seen firsthand an incredible contribution of Nigerian women across different sectors of the economy.
Kallon added that this year’s theme placed tremendous emphasis on the efforts of women and girls around the world, in shaping a more equal future and recovery from COVID-19.
“We will continue to support women and girls across a broad range of areas in line with sustainable development with a specific focus on gender equality,” he said.
Also, Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Country Representative in Nigeria, said that the pandemic had exacerbated the problems of insecurity and uncertainty among women.
This, she said, had led to 98 per cent of businesses owned by women to be forced to either scale or shut down.
“In spite of these challenges, Nigerian women have shown resilience and innovation in responding to the pandemic.
“Either way, as frontline healthcare workers, community organisers, gender-based violence responders and business owners, Nigerian women continue to break barriers.
“The world is now more aware than ever that women leader bring different perspectives and experiences to the table that lead to policies and decisions that benefit entire societies,” she said.
Lamptey added that beyond the pandemic, the 2021 International Women’s Day provided a unique opportunity to tackle the crisis of women’s representation in political leadership in Nigeria.
“UN reaffirm its commitment to working with the ministry of women affairs, the international community and civil society organisations to ensure that women’s rights to lead alongside men are realised.
“We must ensure that the voices and perspectives of young women are heard in areas of leadership and decision making in the pandemic recovery,” she said.