CBN to devote 60% SME fund to women

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says 60 per cent of the proposed small and medium enterprise fund will be devoted to women-owned and managed businesses.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the CBN Governor, said this in Abuja on Thursday at the launch of the “British Council Report on Adolescent Girls and Women in Nigeria”.

“The proposal is for 60 per cent of the whole fund set up on macro small and medium enterprises of that fund to be devoted to women-owned and managed resources,” he said.

“The women will only have to pay back in single digit interest rate.” He said studies had shown that women were less likely to make bad investments than men, noting that women should be able to access loans.

Sanusi said that the banking sector was looking at technology as a way to cut out the middleman, who deprived women of the money set aside for them.

“Imagine if a woman can receive a voucher on her cell phone and take that to her hospital in order to get treatment, that way the hospital gets paid and no one gets cheated.”

He said that in the past, homes were like mini factories, though women were in the home, they worked just as hard as the men and contributed to the family’s income.

Sanusi said that Nigeria needed to change the work culture that indirectly benefited men at the expense of women. “In our work environment, even though the work hours are from nine to five, workers who stay late get merit,” he said.

“If a man has someone taking care of things at home, he can work late, while women might have to rush home to prepare dinner, help the children with their homework and take care of the home. He said the work culture being practised now was unfair to women.

Farouk Lawan, Chairman of the House Committee on Education, attributed withdrawal of girls from school to several reasons. He said harassment from teachers, male students and unfavourable conditions in the schools, were some of the reasons why girls withdrew from school.

Lawan said it was disturbing as the country had not done much on girl-child education, adding that with education, maternal mortality would reduce. He condemned the issue of families using girls as housemaids and prevented them from getting education to improve their lives.

Maryam Uwais, lawyer and child rights advocate, said law enforcement agencies and families had not helped issues of violence against women.

Uwais condemned the harmful practice on women that were justified by culture and religion, saying no religion preached violence against women.

She called on relevant authorities to sensitise the police on how to handle the issues of violence against women.

“Most women go through a lot of violence even in the homes and it is swept under the carpet.”

The report says Nigeria exhibits high and worrying levels of inequality, adding that until women in Nigeria begin to contribute more to household cash income, spending at the household level will continue to be limited.

It says the ability of women to influence others are the extent to which changes in education policy can influence family decisions about age of marriage.

“Nigeria still has a disproportional share of global infant, child and maternal deaths,” he said. “There is a lack of gender parity in almost all areas of human development, the poorest girls and women experience the worst outcome.

“Gender violence has emerged as a cross cutting theme that impacts on women and girls in their homes and in every sphere of their lives,” the report said.

It recommended among other things, the promotion of women’s livelihoods, keeping girls in school, improving women’s health and reducing maternal mortality.

 

In : Finance