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3,000 FCT women to be empowered with loans from BoI

The gender gap in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is narrow and continues to get slimmer by the day, says an agency of FCT Administration (FCTA).

According to the Gender Development Department of FCTA, the gap is so small that sooner rather than later, it would be nothing to write home about.

Acting Director of the department, Mrs. Agnes Hart-Utah, took this position while reacting to the recent global gender gap report released by World Economic Forum (WEF) which postulated that it will take 217 years in Nigeria for the gap between men and women to be closed.

The global gender gap report benchmarked 144 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions, including economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival as well as political participation.

In addition, this year’s edition also analysed the dynamics of gender gaps across industry talent pools and occupation.

But countering the postulation, Mrs. Hart-Utah posited that women in FCT are given level playing ground because women empowerment is ”very critical” to attainment of government’s welfare goals.

According to her, that is why there are Women Development Centres in the six Area Councils of FCT whose aim is to bridge the gap.

She added that FCT women are empowered economically by the Administration, stressing that this has equipped them with the wherewithal to support their families.

The Acting Director further disclosed that her department also engages in political awareness for women who are interested in politics in this regard, adding that the womenfolk are encouraged to key into the programme and possess a positive self-esteem as they have a lot to contribute to the system.

Hart-Utah noted that opportunities abound in FCT for women to harness their God-given potentials because there is fair treatment for everyone in the Territory.

She, however, appealed to the men and the larger society to always treat women with fairness and equity, stressing that if this is done, the global gender gap report cannot be applicable to Nigeria.

The Director stated that women are ”highly interested” in their self-development as every women wants to be empowered, pointing out that empowering a woman is empowering the nation.

Also weighing in on the issue, Deputy Director, Women Affairs, in the department, Mrs. Marie Ijeoma Ochonu, disclosed that FCTA is taking a holistic approach to women empowerment to ensure that the gender gap is bridged.

She opined that the bottom line of the issue is poverty among the womenfolk, but added that FCTA is doing great in empowering women in all ramifications.

The women, she posited, are exposed to financial opportunities through skill acquisition and financial empowerment.

Ochonu further disclosed that as part of programmes to this end, the department is currently compiling a list of 3000 women in FCT to link them up with the Bank of Industry for zero-interest loans.

She added that the objective of the programme is to inculcate in women an enterprise spirit even as she regretted that before now, women were given grants which some of them did not utilise properly.

Another 10,000 women, she stated, are to receive soft loans ranging from N10, 000 to N100, 000 under the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP) with business initiatives generated from the department.

Mrs. Ochonu also concurred that women empowerment will enhance their political participation, self-esteem and improve their relationships with their families.

The Deputy Director moreover stated that the department also embarks on health and nutrition awareness campaigns which translate to healthy living among women and improved productivity as well.

With these programmes, among others, she maintained, FCT will not have wait for 217 years before gender gap is trimmed.

Idu Jude, Abuja

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