United States Consul General, F. John Bray, has called for increased investment in the education of the girl-child and greater political participation by women in Nigeria.
Delivering the keynote address on the second day of the 17th Annual Conference of Women in Management, Business and Public Service in Lagos, Bray encouraged the women leaders to continue working to promote gender equality in Nigeria.
He spoke on the topic: “Unstoppable You: Reinvent & Reinvigorate,” at the event on November 2, attended by leading women from both the private and public sectors.
He said: “Nigeria cannot achieve its dreams of a prosperous and inclusive society without reinventing its approach to how it is treating the overwhelming majority of the women and girls that live in this country … It may be up to you to change the tenor of the national discourse and prod Nigeria to place education and health, and the status of women and girls higher on the national agenda.”
Bray lamented that Nigeria is reportedly home to the largest number of out of school children in the world, many of them girls.
He asked: “If Nigeria properly invested in the education of women and girls, how many more Amina Mohammeds will represent this country on the world stage? If more women and girls are given equal opportunities, how many more Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies will be able to tell stories that enthrall the world?”
Noting that removing the barriers to women’s full economic participation is key to an inclusive and prosperous Nigeria, Bray challenged the conference participants to press for greater involvement by women in the nation’s politics.
Bray said the current political order in Nigeria does not offer enough opportunities for women.
He added that low female participation in politics must change if issues of concern to women are to rise in prominence and draw the interest and resources that they deserve.
He added: “WIMBIZ and various Nigerian women’s organizations can help Nigeria decide the course of its future and chart a course that will lead to a more democratic and prosperous nation. You can start by working to ensure that the 2019 elections are free, fair, credible, and peaceful. That would be a great start!”