The Managing Director of Bank of Industry (BOI), Ms Evelyn Oputu, has said that? there? was? need? for? adequate funding? for gender sensitive programmes? as women empowerment was very vital for any meaningful economic development of any nation.
Oputu? made this statement? in Abuja at? a private sector interactive? session? with the Under Secretary- General? and Executive Director,UN Women, Madam Mitchelle? Batchelet, with the theme: “Financing Women Empowerment and Gender Equality.”
While arguing that gender equality was not only a human right, Oputu said that it was also about economics; about? using 50 per cent of Nigeria’s? human resources to their full potential, adding that? it was wrong to handicap women based on? gender.
She said critical issues in achieving gender equality in the workplace like financial inclusion, access to capital and integration into value chains and new markets must be looked into, while also? emphasising? that there was need to make women empowerment more prominent in the rural areas where the majority of them are domiciled.
She? said? that countries that invest in promoting the social and economic status of women tend to have lower poverty rates.
According to her, the efficient operation of increasingly knowledge-based economy was not only a function of adequate levels of available finance, a reasonably open trade regime for goods and services, but, more and more, was also dependent on the ability to tap into a society’s reservoir of talents and skills.
The BOI boss disclosed that she made gender equality a subject of interest when she assumed office in 2005, at that time she said, women empowerment and finance were not given adequate attention.
Under her leadership, she continued, BOI took a paradigm shift on women empowerment by introducing a policy that 85 per cent of its fund would be channelled to the development of the SMEs as most banks in the country were not lending or granting loans to the women for reasons best known to them. Moreso, the SME sector was a major area where women were visible.