Celebrating the Resilience of Nigerian Women on International Women’s Day

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    Elvis Eromosele

    Nigeria is grappling with skyrocketing inflation. Prices have now reached unprecedented levels, with essential goods, particularly food, almost doubling in the past year.

    Amidst this challenging landscape is the Nigerian woman. It’s the women who are bearing the brunt of this economic turmoil. It is the women who are at the forefront, tirelessly working to hold their families together. Every Nigerian woman deserves a medal and bag of rice this season.

    As we commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th, we must spare a thought for the Nigerian woman. Globally, IWD is a day when people worldwide come together to envision and advocate for a gender-equal world, devoid of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. This year, it should be a great time to remember the Nigerian woman.

    To my mind, IWD 2024 serves as a poignant reminder of the incredible resilience and strength displayed by Nigerian women in the face of adversity. Despite the overwhelming pressures of inflation, they continue to navigate through the storm, employing ingenious strategies to ensure the well-being of their families.

    At the heart of every household, women are the pillars of strength, the silent heroes who work tirelessly to stretch every naira and kobo to its limit. They meticulously plan meals, scour markets for the best deals, and ingeniously repurpose resources to make ends meet. Their resourcefulness and unwavering determination are commendable, serving as a beacon of hope amidst economic uncertainty.

    While Nigerian women have proven their resilience time and again, they must now receive the support and empowerment they deserve, especially during these trying times. We must look at immediate and long-term initiatives to empower and uplift Nigerian women.

    The best place to start today is social interventions. By social interventions, I’m thinking of immediate and orderly distribution of food items, particularly nutritious ones, to women in need. This can involve establishing and or funding existing food banks or community kitchens that provide essential food items to women facing food insecurity. Additionally, educational programs on nutrition and cooking could accompany these initiatives to empower women to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.

    His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos, was in the news recently about plans to engage the services of canteens locally known as “mama put” to feed between 1,000 to 1,500 residents daily in each of the LGAs of the state. It is time to put that plan to work. It must prioritize women.

    Secondly, access to funds and grants is pivotal in providing Nigerian women with the financial resources to start businesses, expand existing ventures, or invest in education and training. Government and non-governmental organisations can play a crucial role in facilitating access to these opportunities by implementing targeted funding schemes and grant programs specifically designed to support women entrepreneurs and small business owners.

    Providing women with access to microfinance and credit facilities can enable them to invest in income-generating activities or cope with unexpected expenses. By facilitating access to grants and affordable credit, women can seize opportunities for economic advancement and weather financial shocks more effectively. Deposit Money Banks (MDB), microfinance institutions and fintechs must now move beyond rhetoric.

    Additionally, in an increasingly digital world, digital skills are indispensable for economic participation and empowerment. Building the digital skills capacity of Nigerian women is essential in equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to thrive in the digital economy. Training programs focused on digital literacy, computer proficiency, and online entrepreneurship can empower women to leverage digital technologies for business innovation, marketing, and e-commerce. Moreover, initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide, such as providing access to affordable internet connectivity and digital infrastructure, can ensure that women have equal opportunities to access information, education, and economic opportunities online. The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and NigComSat working in concert with major telecom services providers must actively drive and promote access to digital technologies with a special focus on women across the length and breadth of the country.

    Furthermore, creating and strengthening social support networks for women can foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and mutual assistance. Community-based initiatives such as savings groups, cooperative societies, and women’s associations can provide women with a platform to access resources, share experiences, and advocate for their needs collectively.

    On International Women’s Day 2024, we celebrate the indomitable spirit and resilience of Nigerian women in the face of galloping inflation. We recognize their invaluable contributions to families, communities, and the nation as a whole. We must now commit to empowering them with the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to thrive, not just survive, in challenging times. Let us stand in solidarity with Nigerian women and Inspire Inclusion.

    Eromosele, a corporate communication professional and public affairs analyst, wrote via: elviseroms@gmail.com