Human capital is among a country’s greatest assets. But it must be managed well to derive economic benefit. Women’s economic contributions whether in paid or unpaid labour can transform economic outcomes.
According to UNESCO estimates, Women’s participation in the global labour market is nearly 27 percentage points lower than for men, and women’s labour force participation fell from 52 percent in 1990 to 49 percent in 2016.
A nation committed to developing its economy must be keen and enthusiastic towards promoting and developing women through education, empowerment and employment.
Women also support the economy through unpaid labor, particularly at home. They bear children and often take or are socially assigned primary responsibility for child-rearing. They care for elderly family members and others in their household who need help. Women haul water, prepare food, do other household chores, and volunteer in the community.
A 2015 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs report estimates that women outwork men by an average of 30 minutes a day in developed economies and 50 minutes a day in developing economies.
Women are not fully incorporated into the development strategies of their nation as active participants, and their voices are not heard in local, national and international discuss, their countries will not operate at optimum capacity. It may therefore be difficult for a nation to grow without involving women socially, economically and politically. Women, no doubt, play vital roles in the development of any nation. For instance, Women who have control over their income are likely to work harder and longer.
Women can be powerful instruments of social change. When women are healthy, educated, and empowered, they are more likely to take higher and more tasking leadership roles in the society. Therefore, investing in women’s human capital is vital to the growth, sustainability, and development of the country’s economy.
Empowering women is crucial in propelling a turn of events and an upgrade in mindsets. There is no question that when women are empowered it benefits the wellbeing and efficiency of entire families, networks and the country.
There is begging need to invest in women for them to become part of the decision-making process in government and other key leadership roles. Interest in strengthening women’s role in politics is imperative in resuscitating the economic wellbeing of the nation, as well as the even distribution of economic resources.
Investment in women’s education and health, employment opportunities and empowerment, pay big dividends in terms of economic development. Women’s economic participation and their ownership and control of productive assets speeds up development, helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities and improves children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance. Women typically invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men. Yet, they need better access to the full range of services and facilities essential to fully develop their assets and businesses.
Fostering women’s labour force participation, entrepreneurship and improvements in productivity could add billions to the global economy. A recent study revealed that only 30 percent of formal small and medium enterprises around the world are owned and run by women; a percentage, still below average. Therefore, women’s economic empowerment need to be prioritized, especially in poor economies like Nigeria. For instance, Nigerian women constitute more than 50 per cent of the total population, they own less than 10 per cent of the country’s resources.
Indeed, harnessing the potential of Africa’s women by investing in education, skills development, and other social initiatives can reap enormous dividends and spur development.
The 7th United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan said in his remarks to the opening of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), “studies have shown that “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women,”
There are many ways women contribute to economic growth and development. The most direct route is via workforce participation, which boosts production and thus increase income and savings at household, community, and national levels.
Certainly, investment in women is vital to the growth, sustainability, and development of the country’s economy. Therefore, investing in women’s cooperatives is as good as investing in a household
A few examples of major women groups pursing economic integration, empowerment and development activities include; NACCIMA Women Business Group ( NAWORG); the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs (NAWE); National Association Women in Agriculture (NAWIA); Market Women Association of Nigeria (MATAN); and the Association of Women in Trade and Agriculture ( AWITA).