The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to prioritise, promote and empower Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, particularly women-owned ones in the country.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade, and Investment, Mariam Katagum, said this on the commemoration of the 2023 International Women’s Day celebration organised by the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises on Thursday.
The minister said the theme of the event, ‘DigitAll: Innovation and technology for gender equality’ was most appropriate considering the current global realities, adding that technology had enhanced lives from better communication and facilitation to help connectivity.
“Gender equity is a smart venture; however, involving women in innovation and technology is even much smarter.
“Collaboration must be done across all government, civil society, private sector and the technical community to ensure that the benefits of digital technology are equally distributed.
“Let me reiterate the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to prioritise, promote and develop MSMEs, particularly women-owned businesses.
“I am optimistic that the crop of discussions and participants at this event would come up with a set of recommendations that will facilitate the deepening of innovative services.
“To the benefit of women-owned enterprises and to the benefit of the nation at large,’’ Katagum said.
She further noted the event serves as an important reminder of the immense potential that digital transformation holds for accelerating gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“But also of the risk it bears for repeating and amplifying existing patterns of gender inequality.
“As the world is becoming digital, we must ensure that we keep up with the pace and unleash the potential of women and girls to become active agents of change in this transformation,’’ she said.
While reiterating the importance of the internet, Katagum underscored the need for more investments geared toward increasing women’s and girls’ digital literacy and familiarity with technology.
She said this would enable them to participate effectively in the digital economy and gain access to digital services such as education, healthcare, and online banking.
The minister recognised that women – owned enterprises had progressively increased over the years, and urged women to embrace technology and innovation in their businesses.
According to her, these technologies continue to be influential and have the potential to enhance growth and expand the opportunities for realising women’s rights in Africa.
The President and Chairman of the Governing Council, NASME, Abdulrashid Yerima, made the call on Thursday in commemoration of the International Women’s Day celebration.
According to Yerima, NASME believes that gender equality is an essential component of sustainable development, adding that they were committed to promoting the rights and opportunities of women in the business world.
He said, “Our vision is to create an environment where women entrepreneurs can thrive and contribute to the growth and development of our economy.
“Our mission is to provide support and advocacy for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the resources they need to succeed.
He further stated that the association aims to create opportunities for women to network, collaborate, and learn from each other.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we recognize the important role that innovation and technology play in achieving gender equality.
“Technology has the power to transform lives and create opportunities, and we must harness its potential to promote gender equality.
He added that through its partnership with DigitAll, they were committed to leveraging technology to advance the cause of women in business, noting that its goal is to help women entrepreneurs overcome the barriers they face and achieve their full potential.
“We also recognise that our efforts are crucial in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030, particularly SDG 5 on gender equality.
“I want to thank everyone for being part of this event and for your commitment to promoting gender equality. Let us continue to work together to create a world where women have equal opportunities to succeed and strive in business,” he said.