By Iyakale Yakubu
Jos (Nigeria)– Wife of the Plateau State Governor in north central Nigeria, Regina Lalong, says government is negotiating with financial institutions in the state, on how to reduce interest rates on loans accessed by women.
Women engaged in small scale farming and entrepreneurship, who find it difficult to access micro-credit facilities are among key focus of the drive.
“We are reaching out to institutions like the Bank of Industry to help such women,” Mrs Lalong said in Jos on Tuesday.
She spoke at a ceremony to mark this year’s International Women’s Day Celebration, emphasizing that the collaboration would focus on bringing down the interest rate to remove bottlenecks on the path to progress.
The governor’s wife said that the theme for this year’s celebration -‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality, was appropriate and timely in an era where women were being acknowledged and given equal opportunities with their male counterparts.
“Women should be given equal opportunities in their endeavours and the society; they want to contribute their quota without any discrimination based on gender.
“We also want emphasis laid on poverty reduction for women; by making women self-reliant, poverty is reduced to the barest minimum by 2030,’’ she said.
In her remarks, Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state, Rufina Gurumyen, said the inclusion of entrepreneurship training as part of the International Women’s Day activities on the Plateau was to give women the opportunity to learn the rudiments of being self-reliant.
“It is only when women are self-reliant that they could manage the on-going economic melt-down that appears to be a global issue,” she said.
She said the participating women, who are selected from the grass root, were expected to replicate the programme in their rural women communities across the 17 Local Governments Areas.
Representative of the United Nations, Sewuese Suwa, expressed concern that women accounted for 60 per cent of the world’s illiterate people.
She regretted that Plateau had only one female lawmaker in its 34-member House of Assembly, and urged Gov. Lalong to appoint more women into leadership positions.