By Awaal Gata
Th e Canadian government has stated its commitment to collaborate with Nigerian women professionals and entrepreneurs to help them overcome some of the encumbrances they face in doing business as well as in the challenges they face in politics. Indications to this development emerged during a one-day summit/exhibition organised by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) held in Abuja at the weekend to galvanise the women to build business ventures and sustain them. Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Christopher Th ornley, said during the summit that the decision to support women entrepreneurs and professionals was in line with his country’s foreign policy on gender equality. “Canada is already working with the Federal Government of Nigeria and other partners to protect and promote the rights of women and girls in Nigeria. For example, we have projects focused on ending child marriage with Save the Children and the United Nations Population Fund. Much of our development programming in the areas of health and sustainable economic growth is also focused on empowering women.
Th e Canadian government also announced that it would be providing the sum of $27.3 million this year in support of humanitarian assistance in the Northeast of Nigeria, which has been ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency. “Th is year we are providing 27.3 million in humanitarian assistance for the confl ict in the northeast, which has had unique impacts on women and girls. “With the launch of our new feminist international assistance policy we look forward to intensifying our eff orts to invest in the women and girls of Nigeria and to help unlock their potential”, he said. Th e envoy lauded the ANWBN for organizing the summit, adding that “Canada believes that full gender equality, including women’s economic empowerment, is necessary for eff ective poverty reduction and economic growth both in Canada and around the world.”
He said, “As part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, Prime Minister Trudeau announced,on the margins of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, that Canada will contribute $20 million toward the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). “We-Fi will target small and medium-size businesses and will also invest in other projects and programs that support women entrepreneurs. Led by the World Bank, We-Fi will help womenowned and women-led businesses in developing countries to access the resources they need, including fi nancial and technical assistance”.
In a welcome address, National Coordinator, of (ANWBN) Barrister Nkiru Okpalla, noted that the prevalent economic condition in the country has placed a huge demand on women and they are equally rising to the challenge. She said, “You must agree with me that women are a force for progress. Th ey constitute over half the entire population of our citizenry, and women’s economic advancement to a very large extent, impacts and provides solutions to confl ict and community management, food security and agriculture, as well as Resource Scarcity and Sustainability.”