By Dorcas Jonas
Participants at the African Regional Council of Women conference called for gender mainstreaming in the negotiation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in commercial services.
Participants made the call in a statement released after a tagged three-day conference; “New awakening for African women” in Abuja.
The statement, which was made available to reporters by the national chairperson of the National Council of Women’s Societies (NCWS), Ms. Laraba Shoda, was organized by the council.
The conference was organized in collaboration with the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) and the Partnership for the Advancement of Women in Economic Development.
The forum called for the implementation of a trade facilitation program to improve security and reduce the time and costs involved in trading, especially for small women traders.
The statement noted the need for women to acquire skills focused on development and training in local content and rules of origin, sanitary and other technical requirements to meet AfCFTA trade standards.
They also called for the involvement of civil society, NGOs, including organizations representing women traders and associations of businesswomen in national committees of the AfCFTA.
The statement also called for the provision of gender training for trade negotiators, to create a better understanding among technical officials of the links between trade and gender.
He also called for investing in women’s employment, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, including public-private partnership programs.
According to the statement, there is a need to support mentoring, networking, information sharing and on-the-job training, retraining, technical education, especially product packaging and food safety.
He said it was essential to increase the access of women-owned businesses to business supply chains and improve women’s access to finance through a range of innovative financing instruments ranging from micro-credits to venture capital.
The forum also observed that an appropriate partnership with the media to raise awareness of gender-based violence in society should be encouraged.
He noted that the importance of housing as one of the basic needs of human existence, besides food and clothing, was also noted.
The forum encouraged women to take an interest in the industry as developers.
“Even though the housing industry is viewed as a business for men, women are known to be better house managers.
“Women have also been tasked with participating in the partnership signed with the Federal Government of Nigeria / Family Homes by the Association of Property Developers of Nigeria (REDAN) for the provision of affordable housing,” he said.
The conference also called on governments at all levels to tackle the growing cases of insecurity in the country, so that citizens can discharge their responsibilities without fear.
“As mothers, we are committed to the unity of Nigeria as an indivisible nation. (NAA)