By Justina Auta
Abuja – The National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) and Peace Advocacy and Community Development Initiative (PACDIN), an NGO, has conferred SME Economy awards to eight states and individuals for their outstanding contributions toward women empowerment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Borno, Edo, Bauchi, Benue, Plateau and Katsina states were conferred with the award during a dinner to mark the closing of the three-day workshop on Rural Women Transformation and Entrepreneurship Development held in Abuja.
Lagos State Government received award for Best Supporting State for Female Entreneurship Development, while the First Lady of Akwa Ibom, Mrs Martha Udom-Emmanuel,
was conferred with Best First Lady Supporting Female Entrepreneurs.
Borno Government also received award for Best Supporting State for Women Empowerment, while Edo got Best State Supporting Female Artisans and Bauchi State was conferred with
Most Outstanding State Promoting Female Entrepreneurship.
Others are Benue State Government, which was awarded Best Supporting State for Gender Enterprise, while Plateau got Best State in Promoting Gender Integration and Development.
The Katsina State first lady was recognised as Best First Lady Supporting Rural Women Empowerment.
Responding on behalf of Lagos State Government, Mrs Oluremi Hamzat, wife of the deputy governor, reiterated the government’s commitment toward empowering women.
She said “we will continue to empower our women, not only rural women alone and we will continue to thank the convener of this event.
“We encourage the participants to take advantage of this programme and do something for themselves because women empowerment is very necessary.”
The Director-General of NCWD, Mrs Mary Ekpere-Eta, said that the award was in recognition of their role toward supporting women, which had improved their financial status.
Ekpere-Eta, while calling on more stakeholders to support women on various skills acquisition programmes and empowerment, encouraged beneficiaries of the workshop to utilise the skills acquired to access loans and grants for their businesses.
According to her, 500 rural women have been trained and require financial assistance to venture into larger businesses that will generate higher income for them.
“We have invited the beneficiaries to teach others so that they too can take advantage of the opportunities and enlarge their businesses.
“Most rural women don’t even know that such grants exist, we need to teach them to let them know the various types of loans and grants they can access, how to access it and we will further help them to access those loans.
“Even though there are many women from urban areas, our focus is on rural women,” she said.
The Founder of PACDIN, Mohammed Yusuf, said that the NGO was committed to improving the lives of rural women.
He said that the programme would be replicated in all the states and the 774 local government areas of the country
to ensure that rural women were accessed and assisted.