Multi-Stakeholder Policy Dialogue: Realizing the Buenos Aires Declaration- Policy and Legislative Reforms for Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria

Multi-Stakeholder Policy Dialogue: Realizing the Buenos Aires Declaration- Policy and Legislative Reforms for Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria

As a follow-up to the Townhall meeting with the theme “Buenos Aires Declaration: Pathway to Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria”, this multi-stakeholder policy dialogue was held to stimulate relevant stakeholders, including the private sector to think innovatively on how to catalyze access to financial, trade, technology, and market opportunities especially for women.

“The Nigerian Women have called on the National and State Houses of Assembly to set in motion modalities to domesticate the Buenos Aires Declaration to ensuring that the Legislative Agenda and African Continental Free Trade Agreement AfCFTA provide economic growth opportunities for all regardless of gender.

The domestication, they said, would enable women to benefit from the projected N75bn annual retail market and other business prospects it offers.

The demand among other significant issues were discussed during the “Multi-stakeholder Policy Dialogue Realizing the Buenos Aires Declaration: Policy and Legislative Reforms for Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria,” which took place on Monday in Abuja.

They also demanded for the review of existing laws to provide clearer legal framework for the public and private sectors to promote the UN Global Compact Women Empowerment Principles, WEPs, especially relating to gender and procurement in Nigeria.

They further asked the government institutions and regulatory agencies to work together and synergize to reduce double burden on MSMEs and harness the productivity of women who constitute over 65% of the informal sector across value chains.

They said government and financial institutions should end the rhetoric on financial inclusion for women by simplifying and concretizing women’s access to financing especially for WMSMEs as women have accessed less than 12% of financial credit due to bureaucratic and other barriers.

They appealed to relevant MDAs to provide practical steps and guidelines to eliminate unfriendly visa processes, reduce GBV and other forms of exploitation that impedes trade and movement of goods and facilitate access to foreign markets for WMSMEs.

On her part, the Convener of Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiative WADHI, Mrs. Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia advocated for the creation and implementation of policies and legal frameworks that will expand women’s opportunities and lead to teir economic empowerment at the national and regional levels.

According to her, “The reasons why we are here is because there are gaps in our legislations. There are gaps in our policies. And we cannot do much when the legal framework is weak neither can we do much when the policies are not right.

“We are gathered here today to ask questions: Why are those policies not working for women? What do we need to do to make those policies work better?

“70% of workers in health and social sectors are women. But in the age of artificial intelligence; age of digital economy, we have robotics now. They are preparing robots to take over the work of women who are care givers.

“If that’s what’s in the oven, how are the laws protecting the women? How can we push the change of the transition from this kind of the economy so that women do not suffer?”

Speaking earlier, the Director-General of National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Abubakar Sulaiman said the Buenos Aires declaration (2017) on women, trade and economic empowerment committed its signatories to collaborate on making trade and development policies more gender-responsive.

Sulaiman added that the legislatures had an important role to play in ensuring the implementation of those agreements and also in addressing challenges that women and women-led businesses, faced in trade agreements, noting that gender mainstreaming in free trade agreements was becoming an increasingly common practice.

Also, while declaring the event open, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said that women have an important role to play in trade.

Lawan, who was represented by Sen. Sa’idu Alkali (APC-Gombe), called for more support for women engaged in various trades.”

Credit: Alabidun Shuaib Abdulrahman



The second edition of the Arahah Farmers Market in 2021, held on Saturday 27th March 2021 at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry complex. This month’s edition was unique as it was one event marking the end of the one month celebrations of the International Women’s Day in Nigeria. It was also unique in the sense that it was the first Arahah Farmer’s Market graced by the Honouable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen OFR KSG.

Other dignitaries at the market were the representative of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs Dr Anthonia Akpabio, the newly inaugurated President of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr Al-Mujtaba, the Director General, ACCI Ms. Vicky Akai, the Vice President Agriculture ACCI and the Vice President Women Development of the ACCI. Others are members of the Ministerial Technical Committee on Private Sector, the Chair of the Committee and Convener of WADHI, Ms Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, as well as the Chair, Economic Empowerment Sub-Committee, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, department of Commodity and Export under the GICED Initiative of the Ministry as well as the Director, Business Development, NEXIM Bank, Ms. Stella Uko-Ettete.


Speaking the President of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry said, the Education of the woman is key to eliminating the Almajare system in Nigeria. He pledged the support of himself and his Executive Committee to the Market.

The Vice President Agriculture, Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the Farmers Market Initiative is in line with the focus of the ACCI under it’s Agricultural plan. He stressed that the Chamber will provide Transport Facility that will bring women farmers & entrepreneurs from their farms to the market and thus improve their income. He also maintained that the Chambers will give all the facilities required to move the market forward and also help with pricing. That the Market will cover the surrounding regions, so that what they are farming or producing can be brought to the market.

The Convener WADHI and Chair of the Ministerial Technical Committee, Ms Esther Mshelia, said the Arahah Market is anchored by the Economic Empowerment Committee and aimed to enable us know better the challenges women face in the Market place and the need to connect women to the global market. That Nigerian women we’re not visible at the Commonwealth market which hosted over a thousand buyers and sellers last year. Therefore the Arahah Market will serve as a grooming and capacity building ground for MSMEs especially women.


Rev Tina Bawa, who stood in for the chair, Sub-Committee Economic Empowerment, highlighted the need to connect women to the virtual market, so as to break the monopoly of middlemen and exploitative off-takers

The representative of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and head, GI CEDI, said the Ministry has signed an MOU with the Women Arise Development Initiative (WADHI) who are serving as consultant on this project. She commended the Consultant for building the capacity of women and for carrying women along.

The Head, Business Development, Nexim Bank. Said that, women participate in all processes of export but are not found at the aggregation or direct export stage. That the bank has developed a women and youth export Facility to encourage more women aggregators and exporters. She said the facility is at a single digit currently until February 2022 when it will go back to 9% interest rate. To address some of the issues with collateral, the facility is opened to cooperatives and women owed associations involved in export.

To strengthen their collective pull, women can create an alternative financial security by registering their moveable assets like jewelries with the collateral registry and get the certificate to access financial capital from the bank. She said there is also the warehousing arrangement, especially for commodity traders, where the bank lay hold on stock and pay discounts upon export payment. With all these structures, she said women have little or no excuse to give in the area of accessing finance. She reiterated that the present administration has empowered women in the financial sector.

She noted that the Minister of Finance is a woman and we have over five women who are chairmen and Members of Boards of Commercial Banks. We also have women on board every financial development institution in Nigeria. Hence, the need for a dialogue session with all-female Managers, Chairmen or Directors of Commercial and Development Banks to have structures that will encourage women to have direct and cheap access to finance. She reiterated the support and need to stop Police roadblocks on Market days as this practice affects prices of commodities due to financial demand on them by the Police. Thus, the Police should provide security for our market women at no cost as they are also agents of the government.

The Director-General of the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Vicky Akia, said that at the ACCI, women have very strong support from Men. That the Management of the Centre has three women and two men. Highlighting the four centres of ACCI, as Business Entrepreneurship Skills and Technology, Abuja Trade Centre, Policy Advocacy Centre and the Dispute Resolution Centre. She enjoined all women to come on board ACCI as we need women to talk to us and give us feedback that will help us support them. That ACCI carries out business Match-Making and as a policy encourages 50% women participation. We are also working with the women to tune down the price in the market.

The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, commended the President ACCI and his Executive Committee for the support it has given to the MTC-PS, the Arahah Farmers Market and Women in general. That he is indeed a great Champion for women. She promised to come back to decorate him as a true HeforShe under the global project to recognize male champions of women’s advancement. She appreciated all partners and women present at the market. Indeed she said women need encouragement, finance and soft loans to boost their businesses.

Giving the vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary ably Represented by the Director Women Affairs, Mrs Funke Oladipo, commended all partners and women present at the market. She reassured everyone of the Ministry’s support of the Market Initiative.

The event ended with a tour of the Market stall by the Honourable Minister and her entourage accompanied by the President ACCI, guests and organizing team. On a charitable note and to the delight of all, the HM bought all the produce of the lady farmer whose basket of tomatoes had been almost totally destroyed when it fell of the Keke transport used to bring her goods to the market.

FG pledges commitment to gender responsiveness for commodities, export as WADHI becomes Technical Partner to Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI)

FG pledges commitment to gender responsiveness for commodities, export as WADHI becomes Technical Partner to Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI)

The Federal Government has pledged commitment to the advancement of gender inclusivity and responsiveness in commodities value chain and export.

Amb. Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, made this known on Thursday in Abuja, at the official launch of the Gender Initiative of the Commodities and Export Department (GICED).

GICED is designed by the Commodities and Export Department (CED), of the ministry to harness available resources to empower and strengthen women’s capacity to unleash their potentials in the commodities and export trade sub-sector.

Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Katagum stated that a lot still needed to be done in the area of women empowerment in Nigeria.

She said that in order to promote women’s participation in business, the Federal Government directed that a 45 percent slot should be given to women in the ongoing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) survival fund application.

She advised women to carry out ongoing Corporate Affairs Commission’s business registration for business formalization to access finance, market and other government initiatives.

“The female gender should be equipped and ready to break the glass ceiling and ascend to new positions of power in all spheres of our society, both in the Public and Private Sector.

“However, women especially, need to change old mindsets, take advantage of opportunities, develop their capacities and embrace the notion that they are capable of doing what men can do,” she said.

Katagum urged women to work harder for self-development, building capacities, embrace punctuality and actively engage in meaningful programmes and activities, without making typical excuses.

In an address, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, said the programme was expected to develop the confidence and capacity of women, as well as provide avenues for equal opportunities to be harnessed.

Sani-Gwarzo thanked the ministry’s technical partner, Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiatives (WADHI), for its commitment, especially in designing a detailed work plan and Memorandum of Understanding, which would soon be finalized.

He expressed hope in engaging consultants and technical advisers to strengthen the initiative.

Mr. Suleiman Audu, the director of the department, said with the ministry’s huge mandate of creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive, the main recipients of policies designed for MSMEs were women.

According to Audu, he initiated the GICED in July, after recognizing the underutilization of women in CED, and the need to close the huge gap created by the lack of female gender participation in relevant activities.

He expressed a commitment to work with relevant stakeholders to remove significant barriers to women’s economic empowerment and increase women’s participation in trade.