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COVID-19 Has Deepened Pre-Existing Gender-Based Violence, Inequalities

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At the Hacey Health Initiative Women in Leadership one-day webinar held in commemoration of the International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration, experts that spoke at the webinar revealed that COVID-19 has not only deepened the pre-existing gender-based violence and inequality in the country but likewise exposed vulnerabilities in Nigeria’s economic system.

These statements were made at the webinar with the theme: “Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID World”, where they likewise harped for more women to take up leadership roles in the country.

In the welcome address of Rhoda Robinson, the Executive Director, Hacey Health Initiative, she explained that the IWD was a time to reflect on progress made by women, “to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

“COVID-19 has amplified the inequalities women face every day and it’s very important to have a national and global recovery plan to address this across all sectors.

“Lockdowns implemented to curb the spread of the virus increased instances of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), curbed access to essential Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services, and seriously affected women’s livelihoods and economic opportunities.

“The pandemic-induced poverty surge increased the likelihood of widening the gender poverty gap; meaning, more women will be pushed into extreme poverty than men.

“The pandemic also affected intervention activities of developmental organisations and reduced access to much needed funding for the sustenance of progress to gender equality.

“With all this more women need to be in decision-making spaces and processes where responses to the impact of the pandemic are formed,” she said.

Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, Head of Sustainability, Access Bank Plc, delivered the keynote address. She noted that women have proven to produce phenomenal outcomes in challenging situations and effectively utilising their higher capacities to balance risk, and their resilience to bounce back from disasters.

“More girls are going to school, fewer girls are forced into early marriage, more women are serving in parliament and positions of leadership and laws are being reformed to advance gender equality.

“Indeed, over the past quarter-century, women’s influence over many facets of public life has increased significantly.

“Women are entering politics in greater numbers than ever before, and their influence over high-level decision-making has been growing.

“Women’s full and equal participation has also been recognized as essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said.

She, however, reiterated that inequality of access was still a key concern.

“Globally, nearly 40 percent of women in wage employment are estimated to lack access to social protection.

“Women are less likely than men to have access to financial institutions or to have a bank account. one in five women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 report experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within a 12-month period.

“A new study suggests the COVID-19 pandemic will have a disproportionate negative effect on women and their employment opportunities. The effects of this shock are likely to outlast the actual epidemic.

“It is therefore no longer news that COVID-19 has deepened pre-existing inequalities and exposed vulnerabilities in economic systems with more women than men at the receiving end.

“Nevertheless, as the fight against COVID-19 continues, an increasing number of women around the world are on the front lines bravely taking the lead and helping to promote health and wellness for everyone despite facing a large amount of unpaid care work in caring for children and their families,” she added.

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Brain Drain is Really Brain Gain in Greece

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Brain Drain

By Dimitris Tsingos, Founder, Starttech Ventures

The tech talent shortage in Greece is often blamed on the so-called “brain drain”. But I see nothing wrong with software engineers from Greece moving to other countries and exploring opportunities there.

It is a necessary step for progress, development, and modernization, writes Dimitris Tsingos, Founder of Starttech Ventures, a Greek network of start-up companies.

The so-called brain drain has been observed in many countries, not just in countries in the Middle East and Africa but also in my country Greece. Hundreds of thousands of highly skilled young professionals have migrated after the financial crisis in search of better prospects in more developed economies.

The real problem lies in the unidirectional nature of the flow; many skilled workers leave, and fewer are coming to our countries to work in them.

Traditionally “brain drain” has been considered quite a significant problem. To put it simply, it is thought to be wrong. What if we looked at it from another perspective? Could this phenomenon bring something good? Could we talk about “brain gain” instead of “brain drain”?

Countries that have continuously experienced high economic growth, such as China and India, demonstrate that the mobility of a high-skilled workforce can play a decisive role in improving the home country’s economy. And on top of that, modernizing its society.

You see, many of them will finally return home. Others will stay there and act as ambassadors and ‘bridges’ between the home and the host nation. Also, many send money home to their families (called remittances). As the world bank states: “there is strong and unambiguous evidence that supports the argument that remittances alleviate poverty in developing countries.”

Many studies also show that diversity in the form of people from different walks of life, with different experiences and networks from other countries, helps companies grow faster and find new opportunities. Many of our companies witness that the diversity in their teams contributes immensely to the company’s creative output.

It is just a different point of view: The mobility of people is in many ways good for the world! When mobility increases, new opportunities will present themselves while old ones disappear.

At Starttech Ventures, we recognized the power of “brain gain” long ago. In our portfolio companies in Athens, we already employ individuals of more than twelve nationalities who, for various reasons, decided to move and work here. And we encourage people to see opportunities in other parts of the world. So, we would be happy for people from Greece to find work in start-ups in different countries and vice versa. That would make us learn more from each other and strengthen ties between our countries, helping both economies grow.

I firmly believe that there’s no reason for our countries not to be able to attract skilled workers that want to live and work in them. There are many fabulous places worldwide with a booming tech scene, and we should help more people worldwide know about the opportunities we provide. And we could work together to do that.

Thus, we are proud to announce the Work-in-Greece initiative, which aims to support the relocation of innovative Software Engineers that want to work in Greece. And, with that, build stronger ties and collaborations between companies in both countries to mutually benefit all societies!

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FirstBank, Others Partner With Junior Achievement on Africa’s Largest High School Entrepreneurship Competition

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FirstBank

FirstBank has partnered with JA Africa on Company of the Year (COY) Competition, Africa’s largest high school entrepreneurship competition scheduled to take place in Lagos, Nigeria from 7th to 9th December under the theme, “Fueling Changemakers.”

The JA Africa Company of the Year (COY) Competition which returns for the 12th year in a row and the first in-person meeting post-COVID, after two successful virtual competitions is JA Africa’s annual celebration of winning teams from the JA Company Program, a program which equips senior secondary school level students with the entrepreneurial skillset and mindset to solve problems in their communities by launching a business venture and unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit.

The young entrepreneurs who compete at JA Africa’s COY go through qualifying competitions at national and sub-national levels, competing against thousands of youth startups to qualify for the regional competition. This program transitions them into employment and transforms them into employers. Having emerged as national winners, they will represent their countries on the continental stage where they have the arduous task to impress a panel of international business professionals who serve as judges.

FirstBank’s sponsored winners of the 2022 Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) National Company of the Year (NCOY) Competition – Green Apex from the International School, University of Lagos – will represent Nigeria in the JA Africa Company of the Year (COY) Competition.”

“Given the increasingly complex set of global challenges facing young people around the world from unemployment to climate change and food shortage, we focus on equipping our students to be solution providers who bring about positive change within their communities while developing businesses that generate wealth,” said Simi Nwogugu, JA Africa’s CEO. “Our students have demonstrated great resilience and innovation in grappling with these challenges and I am extremely proud of all of them. I am also deeply grateful to all our sponsors who stayed with us throughout the pandemic period and contributed greatly towards making this a live event again.”

Also speaking on the forthcoming Africa Company of The Year Competition, Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, FirstBank said; “the 2022 Junior Achievement Company of The Year competition remains another viable opportunity to promote the entrepreneurship skills, spirit and talent innate in school children, across Africa. We commend Junior Achievement Africa on the COY initiative as it serves as an avenue to expose participants to inter-cultural values and traditions that will foster the unity of the continent.

We wish all participants, particularly the Nigerian representatives – Green Apex from the International School, University of Lagos – the best as learnings from every initiative could solve critical problems facing mankind as we collectively make the world a better place.

This year, nine student startups representing Eswatini, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe will put their business acumen to the test as they present the achievements of their businesses in numerous formats to win the prestigious title of JA Company of the Year and other amazing prizes from the sponsors. The highest among the prizes at stake will be the opportunity to represent the African region at the Ralph de la Vega Global Entrepreneurship Competition which will bring together COY winners from the six regions where JA Worldwide operates to compete for awards, $15,000, educational opportunities, and more.

The 2022 JA Africa COY Competition is made possible by the generous support of Headline sponsors FedEx, Citi Foundation and PMIEF; Platinum sponsors: Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson, Delta Air Lines and First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Gold sponsors: Tomorrow Foundation, Nascon, GB Foods and Rise, who by supporting this competition are demonstrating their commitment to job creation and youth empowerment on the African continent.

For more information, visit: www.ja-africa.org/coy2022

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Education

ASUU Strike: FG Moves to End Incessant University Strikes, to Review University Autonomy

The Federal Government has decided to review the laws that established public universities to prevent a re-recurrence. 

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Luong-Quoe-Vice-President-Yemi-Osinbajo - Investors King

The Federal Government on Monday announced it was working on reviewing the autonomy presently being enjoyed by public universities in Nigeria to put an end to intermittent strikes by tertiary institutions.

Speaking on Monday at an event organized by the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja, the Vice President, Prof.Yemi Osinabajo stated that one of the major challenges affecting university education in Nigeria is the incessant strike actions by various unions in public universities.

Osinbajo, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, noted that the recent strike which lasted for more than eight months did a big blow to the university system.

He added that the Federal Government has decided to review the laws that established public universities to prevent a re-recurrence. 

He said,” The most recent strike actions by the university-based unions have necessitated a revisit on the issues and scope of university autonomy by the government”. 

“This will lead to a review of the university autonomy laws to appropriately address funding, including staff remuneration, institutional governance, and administration, as well as issues relating to internally generated revenue,” he added. 

Investors King could recall that earlier this year, specifically on February 14, 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an industrial strike to press for certain demands which include better salaries and improved funding for the university education system. 

The academic union lamented that the federal government failed to implement an agreement that it entered with the union in 2009. 

Speaking further, the SGF noted that the university system has cumulatively lost over 50 months from 1999 to date as a result of strike actions by ASUU. A development he acknowledged to be worrisome. 

“I doubt if there is any country that has lost such amount of time to strikes in its university system. From the first strike in 1978 to date, all the issues have remained the same. The agitations have been primarily on funding, university autonomy, and remunerations.

“I need to stress here that government alone cannot fund education in the country. It is therefore imperative that a sustainable model of funding university education must be developed,” he said.

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