I’m currently in Nigeria on an international ministerial visit. Below is a blog post about the Women I have met here.
Throughout my trip in Nigeria so far, I have met several inspiring women leaders. But they have beaten the odds. It is a disadvantage to be a woman in Nigeria.
I met with around 15 state government commissioners during my time in Kano in Northern Nigeria. All were men. Nationally, only 4% of local commissioners are women.
In a classroom of 50 girls learning the basics of writing, I was told that 80% of women cannot read in eight northern states.
One of DFIDs partners joined me for dinner on Tuesday. Funded by DFID, her organisation is training 7,000 health-workers and midwives in Northern states. Nigeria has 2% of the worlds population but 10% of global maternal deaths.
And one in three of all girls and women between 15-24 has been a victim of violence at some time
It is this final group, Nigerian adolescent women and girls, who are the focus of the DFID project I launched yesterday, the £38m Voices for Change (V4C) programme. Over five years it will support 120,000 girls improve their skills and confidence in Safe Spaces. And importantly, it will work with 12,000 men and boys, 4,000 traditional and religious leaders and their communities to begin to shift attitudes and behaviours to support these girls.
This is important because women’s disadvantage in Nigeria is a problem for all it’s citizens. Economic growth, and any poverty reduction, will never achieve its full potential unless Nigeria’s women help drive the county forward. Nigeria’s women, and the female leaders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, will lead. I hope that through V4C and our other programmes, DFID can stand beside them.