H.E. Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki: Improve Education and Opportunities for Girls, Young Women, to Empower Leaders of Tomorrow
As the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) convenes in London, H.E. Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki called for greater investment in improving education and opportunities for girls and young women at a Voices Together Forum side-event on ‘The Changing Role of African Women.’ The Voices Together Forum is an Africa-focused gender event which aims to push the boundaries for women in business and leadership positions across the world.
Delivering the Opening Speech - Women in Leadership - preceding the scheduled keynote address of H.E Aisha Muhammad Buhari, wife of the President of Nigeria, Mrs Saraki, represented by Ms Saffron Golding commented:
“This forum coincides of course with the London Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. 60% of the combined population of the Commonwealth’s 53 member nations is currently under 30 years of age and, as we look to bring forward the leaders of tomorrow, the education of girls, and opportunities for young women, must take centre stage.”
“To transform that role and release the demographic dividend only girls and women can provide, the educational opportunities for girls must dramatically improve.”
“Meetings this week have however already yielded some important commitments on gender equality in education. The UK Government has, for example, pledged £212 million to ensure that girls in Commonwealth countries spend at least twelve years in education. The aim of the UK Government’s new spending commitment is to ensure that one million more girls reach that threshold and we must welcome that.”
"At the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, our youth empowerment partner organisation, Wellbeing for Women Africa, provides a platform for amplifying the power of youth voices in global development discourse across Africa, while similarly, the Gates Foundation has recently unveiled an ambitious gender strategy"
“If we come at the issue from a business perspective, we can say with confidence that investments in girls and women are smart investments. Women are key to achieving the demographic dividend that comes with an interplay of reduced total fertility rate, an expanded base of working-age population, and improved educational, infrastructural and healthcare investments. The UN estimates that gender inequality overall costs sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year. We have both a moral and economic imperative to transform the equality agenda.”
Mrs Saraki, Wife of Nigeria's Senate President, is Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), and Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). Mrs Saraki is also Chair of Nigeria’s Primary Health Care Revitalisation Support Group, which is co-chaired by House of Representatives members Hon Chike Okafor and Hon Mohammed Usman.
The Voices Together Forum was created by IMPC Limited and hosted in London in partnership with the Developing Markets Association. Mrs Saraki’s Goodwill Message was delivered to the forum by Wellbeing for Women Africa's Ms Saffron Golding.