The National Bureau of Statistics’ report recently that Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 5.01 percent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021 has sparked controversy among economists and other stakeholders.
The issue of GDP growth is of interest in all countries of the world because it is an indication of economic, hence social well-being.
In some countries, though, latent growth potential can be suppressed due to cultural and religious interests. It is arguable that salient societal and cultural encumbrances affect the female folks’ progress. The trend is especially characteristic of low and middle-income countries. Nigeria is no exception.
Recently, the resident and humanitarian coordinator of the United Nations in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said there is no way Nigeria can develop without the full participation of women. Kallon took into cognizance that Nigeria is a country where close to 50 percent of the population is women. Some demographic reports suggest more than 50 percent of the population is women.
By saying that, the UN chief could not be any closer to the fact. Nigeria needs her full population’s economic participation for the realization of her full economic potential.
A large body of evidence demonstrates the positive relationship between women’s economic participation and a country’s prosperity. According to the Council on Foreign Relations Women and Foreign Policy Program’s new digital report, ‘Growing Economies Through Gender Parity,’ which visualizes data from the McKinsey Global Institute, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by 23 percent, or $229 billion by 2025 if women participated in the economy to the same extent as men. And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that strengthening gender equality in Nigeria could be an economic game-changer, leading to higher productivity and greater economic stability.
Issues such as gender violence, failure to ensure the right of the female child to free and compulsory education, slavery, to name a few are rife in many developing countries, including Nigeria.
Studies have shown that the female folks in developing climes are looked down upon because of an acute lack of opportunities to forge ahead in education and vocational skills.
Governments and private investors have long recognized the importance of investing in education and skills development, in terms of both achieving gender equality and economic resilience. But progress for adolescent girls and young women, a group that comprises an estimated one-eighth of the world’s population, is far from equal, especially when it comes to enabling adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries to have the same opportunities to find employment and participate in their communities.
Adolescent girls and young women are Nigeria’s next generation of leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs. It is their right to learn and reach their full potential. Investing in their success makes economic sense and is also a smart way to maximize social impact.
Sadly, in Nigeria, 44.1% of said adolescents are forced into marriage before turning 18. Nigeria’s figures for early child marriage raises genuine concerns for development because there is an 18.5 percent prevalence of early marriage before 15 in Nigeria.
It could only be imagined what contribution Nigeria’s 18.5 percent female adolescent population would add to the country’s GDP if they were properly trained and given equal economic opportunities.
By all means, there is a need to support the development of female talent in Nigeria. Hence, all stakeholders, including the federal government, investors and philanthropic entities need to develop intentional strategies at greater scale of impact that focus specifically on girls’ and young women’s right to learning and transitioning from education and learning to employment.
A report published in partnership with UNICEF, the GenderSmart investing Summit, and Volta Capital lays out six core investment themes — skills, jobs, education, safety, health, and inclusion that influence how girls and young women make the transition from school to work and present opportunities for investors to address persistent gender gaps in education and economic participation.
Nigeria must be great. But leaving out a large percentage of her potential workforce that could join hands to make the country great does not make economic sense.
The federal government needs to formulate policies to ensure that all those idle hands come on deck by empowering the female folks, especially adolescent females who are Nigeria’s future.
This can be achieved by making sure that they get the requisite security and empowerment from the government and society at large.