We are living in a society where women are widely discriminated against, even though they form about 50% of the general population. Women (and girls) are regarded as the ‘weaker sex’ in many communities. Their opinions and rights to inheritance are still widely debated. Undervalued responsibilities (like preparing meals, looking after the home, raising children, fetching water, and working in the fields) supposedly belong to women, while the grand role of ‘bread winning and societal leaders seem fitting for the men.
However, times are changing and women are beginning to venture into uncharted territories. Women are relentlessly proving that they can be entrusted with these responsibilities. A classic attestation of this fact is found in the game-changing experience of Tara Fela-Durotoye.
As an emerging entrepreneur, she had a meeting with a bank MD to secure a loan of ₦500,000. The MD, impressed by the discipline and consistency in her business accounts enabled Tara to request a loan of ₦40 million. With this investment, Tara expanded her already viable brand into a multi-million empire.
While African women have continued to make giant strides, there are still difficulties for some to access productive resources (such as land, finance and information that they need to grow their farms and businesses). They are disproportionately affected by poverty, violence and discrimination.
The investment opportunities
To this development, the opportunity to invest in women has never been more imperative. A report compiled by the United Nations suggests that “women could increase their income globally by up to 76% if the employment participation gap and the wage gap between women and men were closed”. If achieved, it is believed this could have a calculated global value of about $17 trillion. This is just one of many references cited on the need to empower more women.
Just barely over a month, the Presidency (through the office of the First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari and wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Dolapo Osinbajo) partnered with African businessman, Tony Elumelu, on an initiative to boost the capacity of Nigerian women in export. The aim is to connect one million women to the international market by 2020. Commenting on the programme First Lady, Aisha Buhari, affirmed that Nigerian women are extremely hardworking. “We only need a little push.” President Buhari also urged the public sector to support the initiative, saying: “I would like to lead a call to the Federal Government to assign 20 percent of public procurement to women-owned businesses.”
The role of data in women empowerment
The former Vice President’s comments were premised on observations and findings from the launch of a micro-finance bank. In his tweets, he mentioned how data has supported his argument that investment in women yields greatly.
While it’s easy to see why data has become so important to modern analytics and decision-making process, the general perception around how little of it is put into use in this part of the world is worrisome.
With the aid and efficient use of data and analytical tools, women empowerment can spur rapid social and economic development in Africa.