Emefiele Seeks More Gender Parity, As CBN Celebrates 2023 Int’l Women’s Day

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday noted that digital financial services is today critical to the economy, providing vast opportunities to bridge the gender gap, drive financial inclusion and increase employment and economic opportunities for women.
In a keynote address at the CBN webinar to commemorate the International Women’s Day celebration on March 23, 2023, he reiterated the apex bank’s commitment to promoting gender equality and financial inclusion among women through such policies as the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF). The MSDMEDF, he said, dedicates 60% of the funding under the scheme to women-owned enterprises, the Framework for Advancing Women’s Financial Inclusion in Nigeria, which seeks to address gender gaps in access to finance, targeted onboarding of women on its central bank digital currency, the e-Naira, amongst others.
Emefiele who spoke on the theme, “Digitise Her: bridging the digital gender gap for financial inclusion and sustainable growth”, attributed the successes recorded by the CBN to the hard work, resilience, and commitment of the female staff.
Felicitating Nigerian women, he called for more engaging conversations on how women can leverage technology and innovation to bridge the digital gender gap.
Also speaking, Mrs. Aishah N. Ahmad, the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability (FSS), who hosted the Coffee Table Chat with Dr. Omobola Johnson, the special guest speaker, called for broad private and public sector commitment to gender parity and ensuring that women, youth and rural dwellers have access to digital financial services.
Mrs. Ahmad lamented that despite increased digital mainstreaming, women were less likely than men to have access to technology, creating a digital gender gap which perpetuates women’s economic exclusion. She reasoned that digital innovation could be the missing link and a winning strategy for fixing the parity problem and deepening access to financial services.
In her interventions, Dr. Johnson, a Senior Partner with TLcom Capital and Nigeria’s pioneer Minister of Communications Technology, emphasized that inclusive innovation that is gender sensitive was critical to reducing the gender exclusion gap.
She also advocated for a catch-them-young strategy to encourage females to pursue careers in technology and the establishment of special funds for female led tech businesses to achieve greater participation in the digital economy.
She particularly underscored the importance of making Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education attractive for girls by showcasing role models in the sector.
She highlighted the potential for digital financial services to enable not just financial services but important interventions in health, agriculture and SMEs. She, therefore, urged men to be deliberate in mentoring high-achieving women and their daughters in their pursuit of male-dominated careers like STEM.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mariam Katagum, stressed the need for women to learn digital skills to participate effectively alongside their male counterparts in digital financial services.
Whilst commending the CBN for its efforts at enhancing financial inclusion, she disclosed that CBN and some agencies of government, such as the Bank of Industry (BOI), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), have special funds that women can access for support.
Discussions during the panel session at the webinar focused on the strategic role of digital technology and targeted-out-of-the-box approaches to closing the digital gender gap, guaranteeing women’s access to the digital economy and improving digital financial inclusion and broad-based economic participation of women.
Speakers at the session, which was moderated by Mr. Chibuzo Efobi, Director of Financial Policy and Regulation CBN, included Roosvelt Ogbonna, Managing Director Access Bank Limited; Wendy Teleki, Head Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) Secretariat World Bank Group; Dr (Mrs.) Markie Idowu, MD/CEO of Xpress Payment Solutions Limited; Mrs. Farida Yahya, Vice President, Partnerships Shecluded; and Mrs. Hawwau Gambo, Assistant Director and Head of Media Relations, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The webinar was attended by over 1,000 participants across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy, including other CBN Deputy Governors and departmental Directors.