The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), through its Policy Innovation Centre has announced its 2023 Gender and Inclusion Summit which aims to provide an inclusive platform to advance gender equality, inclusion and responsive governance in Africa.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, Tayo Aduloju, chief executive officer of the NESG noted that the summit was anchored on the understanding that in the nation’s pursuit of progress and prosperity, gender equity, trade, and inclusive health policies and programs are critical for sustainable development.
According to him, Nigeria’s position on the global gender gap ranking has widened, dropping from 123 in 2022 to 130 in 2023 of 146 countries.
Noting that a nation’s overall development, labour productivity, and rate of economic growth are significantly influenced by trade and health, he said, “Trade has the power to change people’s lives, communities, and entire nations. We define it in the context of our summit as the voluntary exchange of goods, services, and resources.
“Parallel to this, health is the total state of one’s physical, mental, and social well-being and is thus a vital component of human development.
“We see how rising healthcare costs, deteriorating infrastructure, a lack of equipment and essential medicines, and brain drain of health workers limit physical and financial access to health services.
Speaking further, Aduloju noted that despite their significant contributions to informal trade, women continue to have limited access to resources and market.
Citing the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, he said women who engage in informal cross-border trade lack access to information on trade regulations and customs protocols.
“As a result, they resort to informal crossing paths, which increases their risk of violence, harassment, multiple taxation, and, in some cases, merchandise seizure.
“Health, on the other hand, must be viewed as both an investment and a catalyst for economic growth. Evidence suggests that in developing countries such as Nigeria, every dollar invested in health yields an economic return of $2 to $4.
“Nigerian maternal mortality remains among the highest in the world, with over 50,000 women dying every year because of pregnancy-related complications and a maternal mortality ratio estimated between 500 and 1,047 deaths per 100,000 live births, far exceeding the global target of 70 deaths per 100,000 live births.
He said maternal mortality was widely accepted as an indicator of a country’s health system, implying that, despite commendable efforts made by the Nigerian government, as well as donor and implementing agencies, we still need to build bridges that will advance health outcomes for all.
In her remarks, Osasuyi Dirisu, executive director of the Policy Innovation Centre, stated that the summit would explore strategies to advance gender and inclusion by harnessing the potential of trade to promote economic participation, reduce inequalities, improve access to opportunities as well as innovative approaches to bridging healthcare financing gaps and access to quality healthcare services.