The UN Women says it has donated N38 million to Nigeria in the wake of the coronavirus, to boost palliatives for vulnerable women in the country.
According to a statement on Friday in Abuja by Mercedes Alfa, UN Women Media Officer, the fund was presented to the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, by Comfort Lamptey, Country Representative to Nigeria/ECOWAS.
The UN Women is the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women that ensures every woman and girl child exercise human rights and live up to full potential.
Alfa said: “As part of efforts to support the government of Nigeria on COVID-19 response, UN Women has donated N38 million to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs toward palliatives for vulnerable women.
“The donation is officially presented today in Abuja, to the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, by the UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Comfort Lamptey.
“The funds will be channeled toward the procurement and distribution of relief and hygiene supplies, including food items, soap, masks and sanitisers, which will be procured from women-owned businesses.
“These palliative are targeted at reaching 12,600 vulnerable women and girls, who have been worst hit by the effects of the crisis, in 14 states across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.”
Alfa said through the oversight and supervision of the ministry, women organisations and networks in targeted states, including the Africa Women Leaders Network, women leadership roles would be underlined.
She said that leadership roles include the procurement of the palliatives from women-owned businesses, identification of vulnerable households, the monitoring and distribution of the palliative materials to vulnerable women.
She quoted Lamptey to have said that women were the most affected by the pandemic, in spite of the fact they formed major chunk of the owners of micro-enterprises in Nigeria.
She said: “Women in Nigeria make up 47.8 per cent owners of micro-enterprises and 22 per cent of SMEs, with high concentration in economic sectors, such as wholesale, manufacturing, accommodation, food services and agriculture.
“This women-led enterprises will be heavily impacted by disruptions in supply chains and closure of markets; impacting on their ability to feed their families and be independent.
“Whilst the pandemic is one that affects all spheres of society, women and girls are being more adversely affected by violence, food insecurity and loss of income.”
Alfa said women and girls are the bearers of an unfair burden of care during this time, they are most likely to be responsible for caring and providing for households, including sick relatives.
She said the UN Women would continue to strengthen the capacities of the most affected vulnerable female-headed households, poor women with disabilities and those affected by conflict.
The UN media officer also noted that the support was aimed at improving awareness and adoption of hygiene practices, as measures to prevent beneficiaries and their communities from contracting the COVID-19.
She said Tallen expressed appreciation to the UN Women and also the UN family in Nigeria, led by Edward Kallon, Resident Coordinator, for the donation and support.
Tallen extolled the organisation for highlighting the need to prioritise women empowerment through the UN-managed Basket Fund to guide the COVID-19 response in Nigeria.
She highlighted the efforts and resilience of Nigerian women in the face of ongoing challenges and commended the efforts of frontline workers and journalists for their selfless service.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, urged governments and stakeholders across the world to integrate protection policies for women in their COVID response plans.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “Where governments or businesses put income protection in place, this can ease dilemmas, sustain income and avoid driving households into poverty.
“This response must also include those in the informal economy, where most women, who work outside home make their livelihood; such social protection is best directed specifically to women.”