Concern has been expressed regarding the drop in budgetary allocations to women’s economic empowerment (WEE) programs in Nigeria by a coalition of civil society organizations, including New Faces, New Voice Nigeria (NFNV-Nigeria) and the Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC).
At a press conference held in Lagos, the director of NFNV-Nigeria, Aishatu Aminu, stated that the government budget to WEE had decreased from N103. 5 billion in 2022 to N58.71 billion as contained in the 2023 appropriation bill, putting the year-over-year decline at -43%.
Aminu bemoaned the fact that the reduction in funding for the federal and state governments had an adverse effect on the economic potential of women.
The leader of civil society also noted that the allocation fell from 0.6% of the entire budget for 2022 to 0.29 percent in the 2023 authorization. According to her, there were 122 WEE projects in 2023 as opposed to 938 in 2022.
Aminu pointed out that although women have a significant economic impact, they receive little attention from the government. She claimed that if women were allowed the same access to resources and medical care as males, the social repercussions would be extensive, particularly in the areas of education, economic development, and health.
She expressed: “WEE components give women access to income and assets, control of and benefit from society, and power to make decisions. This means that denying women these opportunities have equally denied them voice, income, assets, opportunities and power to make their own decisions.
“WEE components include all activities targeting women and young girls as economic actors, including capacity building, vocational training, skill acquisition, grants and start-up funds, Livelihood support, empowerment materials, reorientation and rehabilitation.”
The head of NFNV argued that things are even worse at the state level. She gave the example of how there are no specific budget lines for women’s economic development in the Lagos state budget for 2022.
“However, the state only allocated N60 million as an overhead subvention for the Women Development Centre (WDC) to train women on different occupational skills in the 2022 budget, which represents six per cent of the capital budget and three per cent of the budget size,” she continued.
The group urged the federal and state governments to allocate more money to WEE-related programs and to coordinate these initiatives across ministries, divisions, and agencies (MDAs) for efficient implementation.
Additionally, a strong structure for WEE project monitoring and assessment was requested.