By Elohor Igbru
Women and girls inclusion in economic agenda is crucial to the attainment of the 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) according tote United Nations (UN) office in Nigeria.
The UN also lamented that Nigeria is not on track to achieving the 17 SDG by 2030 without the integration of gender into development agenda.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, who made this known during the Africa Social Impact Summit organised by Sterling One Foundation and other partners, at the Transcorp Hotel Abuja said Nigeria is important for Africa’s achievement of the SDG and called for concerted efforts to meet the country’s development aspirations.
The two-day event is drawing critical interrogation about Nigeria’s strategies to achieving the SDGs with stakeholders from government, private sector and development sector and the international community.
Schmale said: “The theme of this summit is “Rethink, Rebuild, Recover — Accelerating Growth for the SDGs.” This is apt after a difficult couple of years for Nigeria, Africa and the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Africa’s largest country by population and size of economy, Nigeria is important to the success of the 2030 Agenda, on this continent and globally.
“As it stands, Nigeria is unfortunately not on track to reach many of its SDGs by 2030, a situation compounded by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The same is true across many African countries.
“Our guiding principle for development and social impact is and as well as internally displaced and refugees hit especially hard by growing unemployment, spiraling inflation, and insufficient access to quality education and health services, we must take a fresh look at how best to support the most vulnerable on this continent. Like the youth, women and girls face many challenges in reaching their potential.
Related Story: UN, MAIN trains Abuja Journalists on SDGs reporting
“Our late Secretary, Kofi Anan was right when he said that gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development, and building good governance.
“If we position women and girls at the centre of economies, we will fundamentally drive better and more sustainable outcomes for all, support a more rapid recovery, and put Africa back on a footing to achieve the 2030 agenda and its accompanying SDGs. In my almost 8 months in Nigeria, I have been inspired by the many captains of industry that are women. We must learn from the positive examples of achieving greater gender equality to further fuel African economies.
“Empowering women and girls help expand economic growth. In fact, studies show that women and men participating equally in the economy could add a further US$28 trillion to the global annual GDP by 2025. Only yesterday I met with a group of representatives from the community of people living with disabilities. They made a strong and convincing plea that leaving no one behind must include them and especially women with disabilities if we are serious about inclusive growth.
“In referring to economic growth, allow me to underline that we must think growth and social protection together. It is evident that there is no quick-fix solution in a country like Nigeria to lift the almost 100 million people living on less than N370 a day above the poverty line. Those losing out must in the short and medium-term be protected in effective and innovative ways including through cash transfer programmes.
“And it is imperative that support and subsidies aimed at making life more bearable for the poor really does reach them, and those significant adjustments are made where they don’t.”
He added that impactful development requires investment into quality education for all and affordable -rima health care.
Speaking on the goals of the summit, the Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank and board member, Sterling One Foundation, Abubakar Suleiman said it will bring the idea of investments to drive social impact towards addressing the SDGs, climate change, food security, education, renewable energy, water, sanitation and hygiene.
“A lot of people will meet here for the first time and start working together, some are already working together and they will accelerate what they are doing. There is a place for us to bring government, non-governmental organisations, and private sectors together to solve the same problem,” Suleiman said.
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, Olapeju Ibekwe said all hands must be on deck to achieve the targets of the SDGs.
“The pandemic has set us back towards the achievement of the SDGs but before 2030, we have a lot to do. This summit is to drive regional inclusive conversations and bring policymakers in the public and private sectors to come up with a new path to accelerate the achievement of the goals,” she said.