The Managing Director of Asharami Energy, a Sahara Group Upstream Company, Olajumoke Ajayi has urged regional and global stakeholders to invest in the education of women to ensure they are empowered to take on the critical role of nurturing the leaders of tomorrow.
“Education takes off limits and shatters all manner of ceilings women may come across. It is the bedrock for ensuring global sustainable development as everyone goes through the tutelage of women at various cycles of life. At Sahara, we believe that no effort should be spared in providing support for the education of girls and boys; this should be a global campaign that should be embraced by world and business leaders as well as the civil society,” Ajayi told a gathering of gender parity advocates at an event organized by the United Nations Information Centre and United Nations Association of Nigeria to commemorate the 2019 International Women’s Day.
Supported by Sahara Foundation, the event was designed to encourage women and girls to explore career paths in technology and innovation and also build businesses and make strategic investments towards transforming lives and ensuing economic prosperity.
The event commenced with the introductory message from the Director of the United Nations Information Centre, Lagos Dr. Ronald Kayanja who encouraged participants toseek innovative ways of using technology to champion women’s rights and participation in governance and business. “We need to find innovative ways of reimagining and rebuilding our nation so that it works for everyone. There are tasks that women and girls perform today that technology and innovation has made easier and we must ensure that they get access to these tools to improve the quality of life for women everywhere,” Dr. Kayanja said.
The keynote speech was given by Dr Joan Agha, the Executive Director of Joan Agha Foundation who urged the participants to look towards using education and digital technology to empower women and girls. ‘’We live in a patriarchy and we must see the rights of women as our common objective to build a prosperous and inclusive world as we move towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’’
Since inception, Sahara Foundation has implemented its Personal and Corporate Social Responsibilities (PCSR) initiatives in the areas of Health, Education & Capacity Building, Environment and Sustainable Development. Over two million people have benefitted from Sahara Foundation’s projects, with women and girls accounting for over 50% of the beneficiaries. Some of the initiatives include eye care programmes, scholarships, literacy development programmes, career guidance programmes, water & sanitation programmes.
According to the United Nations, about 740 million women currently make their living in the informal economy with limited access to social protection, public services and infrastructure that could increase their productivity and income security. Also, one in three women are likely to face violence in their lifetimes, yet public services, urban planning and transport systems are rarely planned with women’s safety and mobility in mind.
The event had a panel session which had Adenike Oyetunde, a media and disability advocate, Ifeoma Adibe-Chukwuka, the founder of Omaness Skin Care, Dr. Afanu Belinda, a hospitality consultant, Ambassador Ayo Olukanni, the Director General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and Oduwa Ayela-Agboneni founder of Nenis Auto Care to explore how women are using innovation to create wealth and powering the society.
While a little more than a decade remain to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 5 on gender equality, all indications show that at the current pace of change, closing the global gender gap will take a staggering 108 years, and 202 years for economic gender parity.
To meet the needs of women and those most marginalized at the bottom of the pyramid, public services, infrastructure and social protection require innovative platforms to increase the quality and affordability for women users.