Investing in the inclusion of women and girls in political processes and leadership directly benefits economic growth, good governance and participatory democracy. This week, the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) and UN Women is holding a three-day workshop in Bridgetown, Barbados on ‘Leadership for Good Governance and Social Transformation in the Caribbean’ focusing on women’s empowerment in the region.
Speaking about the significance of women’s participation, Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC said:
“If we are to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the rising cost of living, then building the capacities of women in parliaments and other decision-making institutions cannot be overstated. While Caribbean countries have made considerable progress in improving the representation of women at all levels of decision-making, we can all do more to ensure that the lives of women and girls are improved in a meaningful way. By combining our collective resources to create greater gender-responsive political participation, we are championing human rights and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.”
As part of the “Commonwealth Inclusive Dialogue and Women’s Political Participation” project and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), this workshop brings together experienced and aspirant women leaders from across the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Ahead of the workshop, CIWiL Regional Board President, Lady Anande Trotman Joseph said:
“Multiple crises are threatening to reverse the gains made in the past 50 years, by deepening existing inequalities, impacting women’s income generation, hampering their political and social mobility and exacerbating the dire levels of violence against women and girls. This workshop will critically reflect on the status of women in the Caribbean as well as create spaces and enduring networks where Caribbean women leaders can share lessons, experiences, best practices and develop their transformational leadership ethic.”
Representative, UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean, Ms Tonni Brodber said:
“Data continues to show that inclusive policies and legislation that integrate gender responsiveness led to reduced inequality and increased economic growth. Parliaments need more diversity of voices including more women from across all walks of life and vocal male allies demonstrating transformational leadership and advocating for gender responsive solutions to build back better.”
The workshop employs an experiential approach, utilising tools and case studies to support capacity building among Parliamentarians, women and men alike, to advance the role of women in leadership. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with regional and international specialists in politics, gender and development who will facilitate knowledge sharing and exchanges by applying a transformational leadership approach to good governance. The workshop also aims to strengthen technical competencies in parliamentary processes and procedures to strategically address key issues around gender inequality and women’s rights in the region.
The ‘Leadership for Good Governance and Social Transformation in the Caribbean’ workshop emphasises the importance of leadership in the advancement of gender equality and building back better. The workshop is an important step in developing influential and accountable parliamentarians who will serve as champions in their national governments and regionally, for gender-responsive legislation, policies, governance and development processes.
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Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
Nigeria Spends N231.27 Billion on Arms Procurement in Four Years Amidst Rising Security Challenges
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disbursed a total of N231.27 billion for arms and ammunition procurement over the past four years.
Despite this significant investment, security agencies argue that the allocated funds are insufficient to effectively tackle the myriad security challenges afflicting the nation.
Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, defended the substantial budget for arms purchases during a session with the House of Representatives.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s dependence on foreign countries for military hardware, which are priced in dollars, diminishes the impact of the substantial budget when converted to the local currency.
General Musa explained, “We don’t produce what we need in Nigeria, and if you do not produce what you need, that means you are at the beck and call of the people that produce these items. All the items we procured were bought with hard currency, none in naira.”
He further illustrated the challenges faced, citing that a precision missile for drones costs $5,000, underscoring the magnitude of the expenses associated with arms procurement.
An analysis of the annual budgets for the Ministry of Defence and eight other armed forces from 2020 to 2022 reveals allocations of N11.72 billion, N10.78 billion, and N9.64 billion, respectively.
In 2023, N47.02 billion was disbursed for arms procurement, supplemented by a recently passed budget of N184.25 billion, resulting in a total of N231.27 billion.
Security expert Chidi Omeje raised concerns about the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), which is tasked with manufacturing arms locally. Omeje criticized DICON’s underperformance, urging the government to revamp the agency to reduce reliance on foreign nations for arms and ammunition.
Omeje stressed, “The new government must make sure that DICON lives up to its responsibilities,” highlighting the urgency of fostering self-sufficiency in arms production to address the country’s security challenges effectively.
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