Centuries ago, women, especially in Africa, did not see the need for financial stability, financial independence and economic empowerment generally. The typical African woman heavily relied on the next available male figure around her, especially in terms of finance. This and many other culture-related factors put her and her children at a disadvantage.
The importance of women empowerment has been emphasised by various Non-Governmental Organisations over the years and the benefits of empowering African women and Africa itself have been stressed by various international organisations.
A United Nations report notes that the empowerment of women in the spheres of economics, education, human rights, politics and governance, law among others would go a long way in facilitating development in African societies. Hence women empowerment forms an integral part of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Not only will the African woman be able to contribute towards revenue generation within the home, which in turn benefits the entire household, she will also succeed in lifting her family’s status from poverty to a certain level of financial stability and contribute significantly towards her family and the economy.
While Africa.com recognises five important ways through which women empowerment could be realised, which are eradicating child marriages, advocating women’s rights, empowering women through social media, small businesses, technology and energy, it noted that economic empowerment of women is crucial if countries in Africa are to become even more developed than they are.
The United Nations Women identifies that investment in women is a catalyst to gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth. It has been identified that carrying women along economically results in enormous contributions towards the economic growth. There is no doubt as regards to the positive results of women empowerment. It is towards this end that more and more non-profits and NGOs are being established to aid the transition of women from a stigmatised and marginalised gender to an empowered and relevant one.
Women in Nigeria, likewise other African countries are deprived economically, socially and politically, even sometimes educationally when compared to their male counterparts. Gender hub reports reveals that there are twice as many women living below the poverty line compared to men, and between six and 19 times as many men in managerial positions, although this varies according to the sector. This reveals the huge gender gap existing and the gender disparity in developing countries like Nigeria.
The quest to change the status quo has led to the establishment of various projects and organisations.
Notable among the organisations is Women Economic and Leadership Transformation Initiative (WELTI), a non-profit in Nigeria, which aims to empower young women in leadership, technology, education and health. The organisation recognises the need for women empowerment, evident in its intention to enable young women to be competent, organisationally-skilled, responsible and ethical through the programmes offered.
Through various projects and activities, WELTI recognises the importance of bridging the gender gap in Nigeria, likewise other African societies. It has been able to imbibe its core values in thousands of women across Nigeria, while empowering them economically, socially and educationally. Its dedication to women empowerment led to the recognition, and consequent nomination, at the World Summit on the Information Society just last year.
There is no doubt that NGOs like this are becoming widely relevant and recognised in facilitating women empowerment and ensuring their financial stability. In Nigeria, women empowerment has taken a tremendous stride from nothing to something significant. Since awareness programmes and activities have begun, there has been substantial improvement in the general outlook of women and their contributions to their families, societies and the world at large in the aspects of economy, social activities, politics, education and so on.
Women such as Ifeoma Okonji, founder of WELTI, who has actively participated in eliminating gender stereotypes, have been lauded by their societies and various organisations. Their efforts in reducing marginalisation of women and improving the empowerment have gone a long way in bridging the gender gap in Nigeria.
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