Abuja — Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, has said Nigeria cannot achieve economic progress without the social emancipation of women, especially in the North.
He stated this in Abuja Tuesday at the unveiling of Arewa Recovery Plan, a document to facilitate social and economic regeneration in the North, following the devastations caused by insurgents since 2009.
According to him, social ceilings preventing Northern women from aspiring to notable heights in politics and business exist in the region; stressing that these barriers have contributed largely to its poverty.
Represented by his Special Assistant on Gender Matters, Hajia Zahra Umar, the Senate President said, "The most economically marginalised women in the country are from the North. We cannot have an economic recovery plan that excludes their emancipation and empowerment.
"Though nearly 70 percent of economic activities in the North are carried out by women, their total contribution to the national economy is insignificant because they operate at very low levels.
"So, we must accommodate their interests. We have to bring them out of their social chains. Already, there is a ceiling to what a Northern woman can be whether in politics, business, or career pursuits. No country or region can achieve economic growth by leaving behind a sector of its population, especially the women."
He regretted that the National Gender Policy was not being implemented despite its beauty on paper.
"The gap between even between the Northern woman and her counterpart from the South is huge and cannot just be bridged by the cosmetic dressing. It requires real work in terms of policy implementation," Lawan added.
Speaking also, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said the plan to rebuild the economy of the North must focus on shoring up the digital skills of youths in the region.
In his remarks, Mark Topps, a representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said no meaningful development plan can succeed in the North without security and peace.
He said, "Right now, in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states alone, about two million Nigerians are displaced and living in camps.
"So, our initial goal together with the federal and state governments is to return the IDPs to their communities but that will only happen when there is peace.
Topps added that so far UN programmes on economic empowerment in the North are ongoing but explained that a lot of them were contingent on the people being in a situation where they can return home from the camps.
Earlier, Dele Williams, lawyer and convener of Area Economic Club said even though the North has not experienced war, technically, in recent years the mortality rate, insecurity, poverty, and unemployment unleashed in the region in the last decade by insurgents and bad governance have left the people in shock and devastation comparable to a post-war scenario.
"The Arewa Recovery Plan is designed to be a public-private partnership effort to revive the North and get our people back to work," he stressed.