Empowering Women as the Key to Nigeria’s Prosperity
Leading philanthropist Seinye Lulu-Briggs took centre stage at the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) event, calling for a transformative approach to Nigeria’s development. Emphasising the imperative of combating gender-based violence (GBV), she urged for it to be a central focus of Nigeria’s growth agenda in the 21st century.
Lulu-Briggs emphasised the pivotal role of women’s full and equal participation in development, citing a World Bank report. She stressed that addressing GBV is paramount for Nigeria to meet its targets.
In her address, she highlighted the alarming rise in gender-based violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring how it eroded hard-won gains in women’s empowerment.
“Gender-based violence is among African women’s most vexing challenges in the 21st century. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of gender-based violence increased across the world. In Africa, the pandemic eroded women’s and girls’ hard-won accumulation of human capital, voice, agency, and economic empowerment built over international development concerted efforts over the past three decades,” she said.
Despite international agreements, Lulu-Briggs lamented that progress has been slow in improving the lives of African women. She pointed out significant challenges in accessing resources like land, credit, education, and healthcare.
The philanthropist drew attention to the prevalence of intimate partner violence in Africa and Nigeria, emphasising the urgency of the issue.
Lulu-Briggs shared her own widowhood experience, expressing the need to end harmful cultural practices and provide support for vulnerable women. She highlighted the critical role of her foundation in supporting widows and advocating for their rights.
“Since I became a widow, I have paid particular attention to issues concerning widows. One in 10 African women, 15 and older, are widows, with 72 percent being heads of families. And at any time, three percent of African women aged between the ages of 15 and 49 are widows,” she revealed.
The philanthropist urged a collective effort, calling for engagement with influential figures in communities, including leaders from various spheres. She reiterated the importance of educating both men and women on the harmful practices that perpetuate gender-based violence.
Lulu-Briggs underscored the need to support victims, provide avenues for them to seek help, and invest in education and training for women and youth. She urged women’s participation in governance and the promotion of ethical citizenship.
Lulu-Briggs rallied for support in the global campaign to end gender-based violence, marking the 16 Days of Activism. She called for a united front to create a safer and more prosperous Nigeria for all.