The World Bank Group has given its approval for a $500 million loan to the federal government of Nigeria to drive initiatives focused on women’s empowerment.

This loan marks the second financial support provided by the international institution since President Bola Tinubu assumed office on May 29, 2023. The loan will bolster the Nigeria for Women Programme (NFWP), which initially received $100 million in financing on June 27, 2018.

In a statement released by the World Bank, it was noted that the approved funds of $500 million will contribute to the Nigeria for Women Program Scale Up (NFWP-SU).

The scale-up financing will aid the Nigerian government in enhancing the livelihoods of women in the country.The NFWP-SU aims to create better economic opportunities for women, which are crucial for addressing gender inequality. It will also support improvements in education, health, and nutrition outcomes for families, as well as build resilience among women and communities in the face of climate change.

The World Bank emphasizes the importance of the Nigerian government addressing the barriers that hinder women’s economic empowerment and impede inclusive, low-carbon, and resilient economic growth.Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, expressed optimism about the impact of the loan, stating, “We have witnessed promising outcomes from the Nigeria for Women Program, particularly through the Women Affinity Groups that have created economic opportunities for rural women. The NFWP model helps improve livelihood opportunities and enables women to adapt to climate change while participating in local administrations to influence community empowerment.”

According to the World Bank, closing the gender gap in key economic sectors could yield significant gains ranging from $9.3 billion to $22.9 billion. The institution believes that the NFWP-SU will contribute to bridging this gap and bringing Nigeria closer to achieving gender equality.

Michael Ilesanmi, the Task Team Leader for the Nigeria for Women Project, explained that the program aims to mobilize impoverished and vulnerable women, connect them to markets, and provide access to financial and non-financial services through various institutions.

By participating in Women Affinity Groups, project beneficiaries build social capital that can be leveraged to access financial, political, and economic resources, leading to both social and economic empowerment.

The NFWP has already been implemented in six states and has supported over 427,887 members of Women Affinity Groups. Within two years, 20,506 of these groups have been formed and strengthened, saving approximately NGN 4 billion.

A significant portion of these funds is being circulated as loans at any given time. So far, 835,573 community members have benefited from the NFWP through various interventions.

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