United States Consul-General in Nigeria, F. John Bray has advocated for increased investment in the education of the girl-child and greater participation of women in politics.
Bray made the call at the 17th Annual Conference of Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), in Lagos at the weekend.
Bray also encouraged women leaders to continue working to promote gender equality in Nigeria.
The conference was attended by leading women from the public and private sectors.
“Nigeria cannot achieve its dreams of a prosperous and inclusive society without reinventing its approach to how it is treating the overwhelming majority of the women and girls that live in this country …
“It may be up to you to change the tenor of the national discourse and prod Nigeria to place education and health, and the status of women and girls higher on the national agenda,” the envoy said.
Bray expressed concern that Nigeria is said to be home to the largest number of out of school children in the world, many of them girls.
Continuing he said “If Nigeria properly invested in the education of women and girls, how many more Amina Mohammeds will represent this country on the world stage? If more women and girls are given equal opportunities, how many more Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies will be able to tell stories that enthrall the world?”
The Consul-General also pointed out that removing the barriers to women’s full economic participation is key to an inclusive and prosperous Nigeria.
He challenged participants at the conference to press for greater involvement of women in the nation’s politics, stressing that the current political order in Nigeria does not offer enough opportunities for women.
He added that low female participation in politics must change if issues of concern to women are to rise in prominence and draw the interest and resources that they deserve.
“WIMBIZ and various Nigerian women organizations can help Nigeria decide the course of its future and chart a course that will lead to a more democratic and prosperous nation. You can start by working to ensure that the 2019 elections are free, fair, credible, and peaceful. That would be a great start,” the Consul-General admonished.