- Women in Niger are still far away from achieving equal rights and opportunities as their male counterparts; the gender gap in Niger is in fact one of the world's largest. The Nigerien government has however approved a larger programme to reduce this gender gap and today was awarded international financing of its efforts.
The African Development Fund (ADF) today announced that it had approved of financing parts of Niger's so-called Gender Equity Reinforcement Project, which is designed to "reduce the gender gap" in the country. The ADF US$ 4.41 million grant is to contribute to enhancing the capacities for design, planning and management of gender activities and to create a social environment that is more conducive to gender equity.
In Niger, poverty particularly affects women, who represent over 50 percent of the population. The imbalance noted between women and men in Niger - mainly regarding legal status, access to resources, responsibilities, participation in decision-making and access to education, health, information and communication and to legal and judicial services - has hindered poverty reduction efforts.
According to ADF, the new project "constitutes a major contribution to the government's Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) with regard to gender promotion in Niger." Through the various outputs projected, it is to build the capacities of state agencies and private sector organisations for the "promotion of gender dimensions."
- Concretely, this strengthening will consist in the support for review of the National Social Development Policy, the formulation of a National Gender Strategy and a Ten-year Gender Development Plan, an ADF statement says. The project was also said to strengthen activities for monitoring of gender indicators and implement studies on gender-based violence and gender relations towards a better understanding of gender issues in Niger.
The training activities concerning gender and related aspects are also geared towards improved perception of gender issues on the part of opinion leaders - 230 religious leaders, 14,230 traditional heads and 300 heads of political parties - members of parliament, pupil and student representatives and members of civil society organisations.
These influential leaders are being engaged to help bring about major changes in behaviour within the population with regard to gender. With the influence of these leaders, the Nigerien government hopes to achieve profound mentality changes in the population regarding the position of women.
Also the planned setting up of a multimedia community centre and training of about 200 women in the Information Technologies are to help "reinforce gender equity through increased participation of women and girls in the socio-cultural and economic spheres," according to ADF.
Nigerien women however have a very long way to go before they reach the levels of their sisters in other African countries. The country has the lowest adult women literacy rate in the world as less than 10 percent of Niger's women can read and write. School enrolment among girls is however increasing.
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