The National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources recently embarked on an empowerment programme of women groups. DEBORAH OCHENI reports
The programme was designed to mobilize and promote awareness amongst women on the acceptability, availability, accessibility and affordability of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Project (LPG) distribution programme.
It was done, most importantly, to empower the women groups economically and improve their livelihood through the Nigerian Women LPG Project.
Immediate past Director General of the NCWD, Mary Ekpere – Eta who launched the project in Abuja, expressed satisfaction that the women had begun to get involved in a sector dominated by the male folk.
She said that it was an evidence that the fears of safety, operational stress and sometimes high cost of installation of LPG retail facilities were becoming less among women.
According to her these factors have been preventing the adoption, penetration and sustained use of LPG by women across Nigeria.
“It is also important to note that whereas women are the biggest users of LPG for cooking, they are generally not involved in the LPG supply chain and not empowered by the economies of the business of LPG.
This is why our partnership on this project is critical to improving women’s livelihood, survival, clean environment, as well as pulling millions of households out of poverty in line with the National Economic Sustainability Plan.
The partnership will be of benefits to Nigerian women and youths, as it will support the effort of the Federal Government in achieving its 2023 sustainable energy targets.
“The project is target ed at reaching at least 99 million women and Nigerian Households within 3 years, cutting across 120 political units, and 8000 political wards in the 774 Local Government Areas in the Federation.
In view of the foregoing, we intend to use the Scheme as a platform to mobilize and educate women on how the use of LPG can improve their Livelihoods,” she said.
Etta said the awareness programme was intended to create a massive door to door campaign and distribution of safeto- use LPG cans through the Women Development Centers (WDCs) by creating kiosks in the 774 Local Government Councils in the country. These kiosks will serve as Micro Distribution Centres (MDC) nationwide that will be managed by Women Groups in the Women Development Centres.
According to her, the first phase of the project will be targeting 11 pilot states namely, Katsina, Sokoto, FCT, Plateau, Adamawa, Borno, Bayelsa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Imo and Ogun State.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon appreciated the National Centre for Women Development along with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources targetand the Zigma Gas Limited for inviting the United Nations to be a party at the high impact event.
Kallon noted that the oil, gas and energy sector has remained the key contributor to the growth of the Nigerian economy, yet, mounting evidence suggest that the sector is yet to create opportunity for shared growth, create decent jobs, and reduce poverty on a large scale, especially for women. “The available statistics suggest that there are fewer women working in the oil and gas value chain than almost any other major industry and accounting for less than one quarter of employees in the sector worldwide.
This figure grows smaller the higher you go up the business ladder. Addressing gender imbalance matters if oil and gas sector is to deliver stronger economic growth and broader development goals for Nigeria.
“At the center of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Goal 5 1s that fine thread that weave together the 17 SDGs and includes measures relevant to the oil and gas sector to contribute in ending all discrimination against women and girls and recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of infrastructure while ensuring women’s effective participation and equal opportunities to enhance the use of enabling technologies.
“In Nigeria, many women are still heavily dependent on wood fuel to perform their traditional roles, including cooking and income generating, activities, which are highly fuel intensive.
Modern fuel sources such as LPG can therefore save time and improve productivity in many of these fuel and labor-intensive enterprises and protect women from the health hazards associated with the use of wood fuel.
The distribution of LPG represents an important employment ~ sector with growth potential to support the development and expansion of women entrepreneurship in the sector,” Kallon said.
He called on the government and other relevant actors to drive nondiscriminatory employment practices, increase access to capacity building and financing initiatives, and engage women in community Consultations and decision-making positions and equip them to actively participate in and benefit from the economic potential within the various LPG value chains.