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Women, girls bear unequal burden of COVID-19- Finance minister

Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget, and national planning has said women and children bear the disproportionate burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahmed made the assertion on Monday in her goodwill message at the commemoration of the 2021 International Women Day: National Policy Dialogue in which she stated that women and girls must be given the opportunity and tools with which to be socially, financially, and economically empowered.

She also advanced the call for every woman and girl to be guaranteed safety in their homes, schools, communities, and places of work. “We must stop gender-based violence, and end the so-called ‘shadow pandemic’ once and for all; this is our shared responsibility as a people.”

The minister said the Federal Government through the implementation of the Finance Acts 2019 and 2020, was providing tax relief and other support to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), many of which are owned by women.

“We are working to ensure that our public financial management processes are more gender-sensitive, and that credible disaggregated data is available. Such a focus will yield sustainable and scalable change.”

“We are also scaling up existing and developing new interventions at the intersection of gender equality and fiscal policy/public financial management. These include gender responsive budgeting, and assessments of the gender responsiveness of key fiscal interventions (including fiscal stimulus packages) with specific commitments aimed at improving the safety, livelihoods, and economic status of women and girls.

“This is an area in which we at the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning are focusing more deliberately and will be prioritising, in partnership with the Ministry of Women Affairs and other critical stakeholders.

“We are also working to ensure that our public financial management processes are more gender-sensitive, and that credible disaggregated data is available. Such a focus will yield sustainable and scalable change.

“To make the critical investments necessary to close the gender gap and secure the economic empowerment of women and girls, we must address the longstanding challenge of domestic revenue mobilisation. We are, therefore, working to develop the second phase of the Strategic Revenue Generation Initiatives (SRGI).

“We must come together to achieve the empowerment and equitable representation of women in leadership and decision-making roles across all sectors, particularly in roles relating to governance and policy-making,” she stated.

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