Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has said the Nigerian government prioritizes women and youth empowerment in the various social intervention programmes designed since the Buhari administration began in 2015.
He made this known on Thursday in Abuja at an event to mark six years of the Future Assured programme, an initiative of the Aisha Buhari Foundation.
He said the programmes were also designed to improve health, education and socio-economic conditions of Nigerians.
“The very future of Nigeria and our communities depend on how well we address the many concerns of women and children in our communities, especially the focal areas of health, education and economic empowerment.
“We agree with Future Assured’s belief that all social indices can be influenced if the health, education and economic status of the population are improved upon. And that is the case, clearly, women constitute half our population and the youth are at least 60% of that population.
“Women especially, young girls, continue to face problems of every kind and this problem mutate as the social pressures increase every passing day.”
Osinbajo said that empirical studies on the the COVID-19 pandemic and the lock-downs showed that the rates of dropouts, especially of girls, have increased even as child marriages, increased, adolescent childbearing, and gender-based violence recorded increase.
“The sharp drop in income for most families here in Nigeria and in most economies of the world would mean that families will have to make choices that almost always will disfavour the girl-child and of course, female children have suffered disproportionate displacement and deprivation caused by the insurgency and conflict in the Northeast and Northwest.
“For the Federal Government, the President has prioritized the solutions to these issues. Since 2015, we have ensured that government’s social and entrepreneurial programmes have an affirmative component for women.
“So, of the 2.4 million beneficiaries of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, 1.2 million were women – that is 56.4% of beneficiaries.
“A total of N38billion in loans has been disbursed over the last 4 years. Of the 1.1 million beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfers, over 98% of beneficiaries are women,” the VP disclosed.
Prof. Osinbajo noted that for Nigeria’s youth employment programme, the N-Power, 526,000 employed, (40.4%) are female, while of the 106,074 cooks in the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, 97% are females.
“We implemented a payroll support programme which was designed to mitigate income losses in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and of the 307,173 employees that have benefited, 130,880 or 43% of beneficiaries are female-owned businesses.
“Of 94,318 artisan beneficiaries of the programme, 40,386 are female artisans, i.e., over 41% of beneficiaries. And so far, 35% of all MSMEs grants are female. And all of these are deliberate affirmative action to ensure that women benefit proportionately.”
The Vice President further stated that “in 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved a World Bank credit facility in the sum of $500million to finance the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas of participating States which are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Plateau.”
In addressing violence and other abuses against women, the VP said “in November 2019, in an effort to enhance access to justice, we secured a toll-free emergency number and shortcode for the FCT- SGBV Response Team, with the generous support of Airtel.
“We also developed Referral Guidelines for Gender-Based Violence Response in Nigeria and a National Guide for the Establishment of Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Nigeria, to further enhance coordination.”
“Also in 2019, the President directed the National Human Rights Commission to set up a special panel to investigate cases of unlawful arrests, assault and Sexual & Gender-Based Violence in the Federal Capital Territory following complaints of raids of night clubs and arrests of women by the Police,” the Vice President added.
Commending the Future Assured programme for the impact of its interventions across health, education and social welfare, Prof. Osinbajo said “it certainly has been an exciting 6 years.”
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In her remarks, Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari said that the Future Assured programme, which started as an advocacy, has succeeded in carrying out activities and projects that have direct impact on the health system, education and empowerment.
“The review of the Future Assured activities is to provide more insight to the major achievements made over the years,” Mrs. Buhari said, appealing to partners and stakeholders not to relent in efforts and support for the programme.”
The Country Representative of the World Health Organization in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Molombo pointed out the centrality of health, education and empowerment in the UN Agenda 2030.
“The centrality of reproductive, maternal, new born, child and adolescent health; the centrality of health and empowerment in the Agenda 2030, alongside the evolving the global health architecture will provide the opportunity to reaffirm the crucial role of the UN agencies in supporting Nigeria to improve the health and well being of women, children and adolescents and address Universal Health Coverage with quality health services,” he said.
The wife of the vice president, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo and other dignitaries attended the event.