The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen says no fewer than 11,500 poor and vulnerable households in 10 states of the federation have benefited from the first phase of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) project.
Tallen disclosed this in Abuja at an event to close the Ministry/UN Women RCCE project where poor and vulnerable women got N30,000 each to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and improve their livelihoods.
The project was supported by UN Women, UNAIDS, National Agency for the Control of AIDs (NACA), United Bank for Africa (UBA), religious and civil society organisations.
Tallen said the COVID-19 crisis in 2020 exposed and substantially widened the gender inequalities, especially in developing countries, including Nigeria.
According to her, many women experienced job losses and various other challenges which led to loss of lives and livelihoods.
She explained that access to financial assistance had been a great burden not to talk of unpaid care work, domestic violence, and their inability to get basic health services for themselves and their households.
The minister stressed that sustainable COVID-19 recovery could not be left to chance, adding everyone has an important role to play in supporting the socio-political economy of women for recovery.
“It is in realisation of this that a UN multi-sectoral COVID-19 response under the UN Basket Fund was initiated.
“Consequently, my ministry, in its bid to ensure due considerations for the inter-sections between COVID-19 and the Social Safety Net Support, worked to mitigate the risks and impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable women, girls and young people.
“This initiative brought about a joint collaborative agreement with UN Women, UNAIDS and NACA in which 11,500 poor and vulnerable households benefited from the project.
“Vulnerable women in 10 states with high prevalence of the pandemic, GBV cases, HIV/AIDS, women living with disabilities, widows, elderly and others benefited as at the time of the project conceptualisation and commencement in April 2020,” Tallen said.
States that benefited from the project include Akwa Ibom, Borno, Bauchi, Edo, Ebonyi, Delta, Lagos, Gombe, Sokoto and the FCT, she stated.
Also speaking, the UN Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Comfort Lamptey commended the coordinating role of Tallen in the project.
Lamptey said in order to enhance and ensure transparency, UBA was carried along in the identification, opening of accounts and payments to beneficiaries.
“However, there are some that were sick and could not go to the bank. Such people were paid cash.
“We have 10, 737 women that have bank accounts and 767 that do not have bank accounts. The project has improved COVID-19 awareness in over 300 communities in 10 states and also inter-religious cooperation and harmony.
“We want to assure you that, the UN is committed to empowering women in Nigeria,” Lamptey said.
She said the success of the project had demonstrated that it was possible to reach and empower women who are far away in the rural areas and did not have a voice.
Meanwhile, the country director of UNAIDS, Dr Edasmus Morah, said COVID-19 came with lock down, face masks and sufferings.
Moran said there were palliatives, “but the essence of this project is the poor and vulnerable people. I feel proud to contribute to the people and communities”.
Similarly, the director-general of NACA, Dr. Gambo Aliyu expressed happiness for being part of the project.
“We are happy to see women living with HIV AIDS being empowered. Now, they can afford to buy some basic items for themselves. The project has closed today, but we, NACA, will continue till December 31.” (NAN)