Lagos, 8th March 2017

Since 1975, the United Nations and member states have been organizing activities on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day (IWD). Since then, significance of the day has grown in proportion and serves as a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic spheres. This year, the celebration focuses on women’s participation in the economy with the theme: “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”.

Women’s economic empowerment plays a pivotal role in the eradication of poverty and hunger. It also equips women to make independent choices as well as ensure equitable growth and sustainable development in all areas of individual, family and societal life. Strong evidences exist to support the fact that women’s economic growth has a direct positive impact on the development of society. This is reflected by the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2015, which places gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The strengthening of globalization and rise in commercial activities across borders, connotes increase in opportunities and spaces for economic engagement for more women but unfortunately, results fall short of expectations as cultural norms continue to support men’s role as decision makers and women as carers. This resonates into the kind of jobs women and men go into and subsequently, disproportionately affects how such jobs are valued and remunerated even where women possess better qualifications and skills as reflected in continued women’s limited access to decent work, low-paid work and the gender wage gap, employment in the informal sector; women’s unequal access to control and ownership of assets and productive resources – including land, energy and fuel, and women’s inheritance rights.

The world is fast changing, and so should women’s economic engagement, particularly in involving the use of ICT and innovative technologies with the infinite possibilities they avail to ensure women remain relevant within economic spaces at all levels.  Unfortunately, such spaces remain largely inaccessible to women as revealed in a study for instance, where in age group 45-59 in Nigeria, 92% of men are employed as against 59% for women. While concerted efforts have been made at national and local levels by government, private sector, CSOs etc, to improve women’s economic status through various income generating/financial literacy and management initiatives in the country, 54% of women resident in Lagos alone for instance, still live below the poverty line. This points to a poignant reality of the need for urgent and sustained efforts in ensuring women’s peculiar needs within the ever changing work space do not get lost.

We join the world to mark 2017 International Women’s Day. The theme this year also ties in with the Priority theme of the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women – “Women’s economic empowerment in a changing world of work” scheduled for

13th – 24th March 2016, where representatives of UN member states, development partners, civil society organizations (CSOs), public sector and academia will engage on negotiating tables, as well as assess progress and gaps in the implementation of agreed global programs and projects aimed at achieving gender equality and empowering women. YWCA of Nigeria will be actively participating within that space where it will be hosting a parallel event with the theme – “Engagement for sustainable Women Economic Empowerment Initiatives in Nigeria” to explore how women’s empowerment interventions can be better structured, sustained and effectively managed for sustainable economic empowerment of women in Nigeria.

As part of a worldwide inter-generational women’s movement that has women’s leadership and empowerment at its core, YWCA of Nigeria calls for the adoption of urgent measures to address the widening gender gaps in pay and leadership, women’s access to innovative technologies and decent work, and protection from violence in the work place by ensuring:

  • Labour standards are enforced in work places – including the informal sector, for women
  • Quotas for women and young women as leaders in decision making are adhered to ensure inclusive participation
  • Laws and practices that enable discrimination against women in the workforce are challenged and revoked
  • Comprehensive safety and accountability mechanisms are created to protect women in the work place