The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Beth Leonard has pledged the support of the US to strengthen the capacity of Nigerian women to advocate laws and policies that will close gender gaps and provide better protection for women.
She made this known in Abuja at the Gender and Inclusion summit organized by the Policy Innovation Center, PIC, an initiative of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group NESG in Abuja.
According to her, the upcoming 2023 elections present an opportunity for gender inclusion and for women to demand candidates to prioritise policies and legislations for the rights of women and girls.
“During the elections, we would be working with local NGOs in specifically reducing violence against women in politics and during elections.
”Election also provides opportunity for individuals not just to participate in the government processes of the country but to hold officials accountable for their actions and inactions.
”Challenging candidates to have issue-based campaigns is one way to hold them accountable.” She said.
Similarly, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing, stressed the need to deal with social and religious norms and behaviors to execute the desired gender equality progress.
“There are social norms, religious norms, behavioral norms which are used frankly, as excuses for not making progress on gender equality. We must stand up and challenge these norms. Gender rights are basic human rights and everyone is entitled to them. So, we must really safeguard progress and make sure we don’t backslide.” She said.
On her part, the Deputy Director, Policy Innovation Centre, Dr Osasuyi Dirisu said the center works to improve several policy areas such as financial and digital Inclusion, health, human capital, gender and social policy, accountability and transparency.
Also, the Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, Mr Niyi Yusuf said the summit would set the stage for future engagements on closing gender gaps and creating an Inclusive society.
Reporting by Azizatu Sanni; Editing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade & Annabel Nwachukwu