Gender parity drives equitable economic development, improves financial inclusion
At the beginning every New Year individuals, corporations and economies review previous year’s achievements and failings in order to set goals for the coming year, reinforce achievements and right failings, gender parity is a critical area that requires such review and goal-setting for Nigeria.
According to a Nov. 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) report on gender parity, talent is one of the most essential factors for growth and competitiveness. “To build future economies that are both dynamic and inclusive, we must ensure that everyone has equal opportunity. When women and girls are not integrated, as both beneficiary and shaper, the global community loses out on skills, ideas and perspectives that are critical for addressing global challenges and harnessing new opportunities” the report stated.
Recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in a report titled “Statistical Report on Men and Women in Nigeria” show that girls’ school enrolment and completion rates still lag behind boys’.
Percentage of females enrolled in primary schools increased from 45.3 percent in 2010 to 45.7 percent in 2015. For boys it was 53.4 percent in 2013 and 52.5 percent in 2014 available data on NBS website show.
The world moves from capitalism into the era of talentism, competitiveness on a national and on a business level will be decided more than ever before by the innovative capacity of a country or a company. In this new context, the integration of women into the talent pool becomes a must.
“People and their talents are two of the core drivers of sustainable, long-term economic growth. If half of these talents are underdeveloped or underutilised, the economy will never grow as it could” wrote Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum in his preface to a report “The Global Gender Gap Report 2014.”
Multiple studies have shown that healthy and educated women are more likely to have healthier and more educated children, creating a positive, virtuous cycle for the broader population.
However, enrollment declined for both sexes from 12,916,185 males and 11,268,842 females in 2013 to 12,145,968 and 10,983,958 respectively in 2014. It decreased from 53.4 percent for boys in 2013 to 52.5 percent in 2014 and from 46.6 percent for girls in 2013 to 47.4 percent in 2014 as the raw data show.
Nigeria might not be unique in this situation because of the 11 countries with girls out-enrolling boys; they do so only modestly; the highest is Senegal with 108 girls for every 100 boys.
Research shows the benefits of gender equality in politics: when women are more involved in decision-making, they make different decisions—not necessarily better or worse—but decisions that reflect the needs of more members of society but this must begin with gender parity in education.
Schwab added “some of the most compelling findings regarding the benefits of gender equality are emerging from companies. For example, companies that include more women at the top levels of leadership tend to outperform those that do not.”
With a growing female talent pool coming out of schools and universities, and with more consumer power in the hands of women, companies who fail to recruit and retain women—and ensure they have a pathway to leadership positions—undermine their long-term competitiveness. And for those that do, the benefits of diversity are evident.
Nigeria may be far from achieving this because beyond the primary and secondary schools, gender gap persists into the tertiary level, albeit with a slight change in 2014.
For instance, distribution of deployed Corps members (NYSC) by sex and year shows that male corps members have always outnumbered females. In 2010 there were 119, 189 male corps members against 103, 035 the lowest for female corps members was in 2013 with 120, 458 male corps members against 98, 243 female corps members. Interestingly, in 2014 there were 128, 096 male corps against 136, 268 female corps members, data from the NBS show.
Ghana has almost 90 percent of Ghanaian children in school compared with 64 percent in Nigeria and 72 percent in Pakistan.
Education is veritable tool for social change and has been used in different ways by nations throughout history for various purposes in alignment with national objectives.
The form and level of education a person receives determine in a significant way their life expectancy and ability to earn meaningful living.
For instance, American workers with a college degree are paid 74 percent more than those with only a high school degree, on average, nearly the biggest premium in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The United States knows how to provide broad-based education to all. More than a century ago a consensus emerged that Americans needed at least a high school education to meet the growing demand for skilled workers. And the nation provided.
Between 1900 and 1950, the high school enrollment of Americans aged 14 to 17 increased to 75 percent, from about 11 percent.
To European nations happy educating their elites, that was not only unheard-of, it was downright stupid. By the mid-1950s, the full-time enrollment rate of American 15- to 19-year-olds in secondary school was more than double that of any European country.
Educationists argue the American model is the path for Nigeria to tow if it wants to reap the dividends latent in its youthful population.
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