By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, June 23, 2022
Mrs. Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, the Nigerian candidate for election into the UN Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), has pledged to implement robust gender responsive investment initiatives if elected.
Eghobamien-Mshelia, who made the pledge in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, said she would focus on programmes that would make women’s livelihoods count in economic growth.
The election is slated to hold at the UN headquarters on Thursday.
Eghobamien-Mshelia, who is seeking election into CEDAW for 2023 to 2026 period, was nominated to serve on the committee to fill the void occasioned by the demise of Nigeria’s representative in 2018.
While she served, she set up the CEDAW Hub as a virtual support tool to enhance understanding of CEDAW among stakeholders for the two years.
More than 100 grassroots women’s organisations have been trained and are accessing the hub till date.
Eghobamien-Mshelia is seeking election to CEDAW, the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
CEDAW consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world.
“I’m seeking election because we do have a long way to go to realise gender equality and for me, artificial intelligence, robotics are sub-sectors to understand in promoting gender issues.
“As a new digital economy is unfolding, I think, gender issues should be central to that, and I believe that a general recommendation on gender and digital economy is something I will work with you to achieve.
“We can push that in the CEDAW so that we have a clearer framework of a linkage between the new digital economy and gender issues.
“We need to understand the link between digital economy and gender issues so that we don’t reinvent discrimination and for us in developing countries, there are new, emerging investment opportunities from the global North,” she said.
The candidate told NAN that Nigeria got visibility when she was a member of the Committee, pledging that she would implement programmes to protect women’s rights if elected.
“When I was in CEDAW, Nigeria had the opportunity to lead the 40th anniversary of the Convention and demonstrated to the whole world the commitment of Nigeria to gender equality.
“In addition to that, I was able to bring a lot of young girls and mentored then on CEDAW reporting and women rights.
“I also network with a lot of members. Now, am setting up women business incubation centre so that a lot of women will get trained on digital technology,” she said.
According to her, there is energy poverty among women, noting the investment in energy is needed to address the poverty.
“We need investors to also come and support Nigerian women so that we can engender our energy programme.
“We can also look at digital technology to attract investors who can help close the gap,” she said.
Also speaking at the roundtable she organised on “Expanding Gender Responsive Investment Initiative for Economic Recovery and Sustainability” at Nigeria House in New York, she highlighted the importance of women empowerment.
Eghobamien-Mshelia said gender responsiveness is not just a rhetoric but a pathway to empowering women economically.
“We have discovered that knowledge of women in virtual market is lower than that of men, so we are building the capacity of women in virtual markets.
“We are partnering with Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry to prepare women for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which provides a unique opportunity to stimulate new inclusive engagement within Africa.
“The projected 75 million dollars annual retail market needs to be carefully and maximally explored with a variety of partners who are keen on enhancing participation of women entrepreneurs.
“Where are women going to be in the projected 75 million dollars annual retail market?
“That is what is driving us to focus on gender responsive investment. If we don’t, we are going to witness discrimination and exclusion for women,” she said.